Thanksgiving is a celebration of family, football, and most of all, food. However, the amount of food wasted post these celebrations is less often discussed. This post talks about some statistics on food wastage after these big celebrations. The statistics from past years suggest that food wastage around these festivities is huge and needs urgent attention from one and all.
The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of global food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted (FAO, 2011). The proportion of food wasted further increases during festivities. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that 35 percent of turkey meat will not be eaten during Thanksgiving, but will land up into the trash cans. This is equivalent to over 200 million pounds of turkey (Mansharamani, 2016).
It is important to highlight these statistics as food waste impacts global hunger and the meaningful costs and affects the environment. National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group mentioned that the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted globally is enough to feed roughly 1 billion people who are regularly hungry. The report further highlights that reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans, lack a secure supply of food to their tables. (Gunders, 2012). The NRDC has indicated that food waste is not an innocent bystander. Decomposing food waste is an anaerobic process which produces methane (Gunders, 2012). And methane is one of the heat-trapping gases, leading to global climate change.
Food waste is also expensive. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs estimates that global food waste has an economic cost of $1 trillion (Iverson, 2015). And some foods like turkey and other meat products require more time and resources to raise. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that it cost $1.3 billion to dispose of food waste in landfills in 2008 (USEPA, 2014).
So this Thanksgiving let us enjoy with our family and friends and try our best to reduce food waste. I would encourage the readers to please share one (or more) way to reduce food wastage this Thanksgiving in comments.
FAO (2011). Save Food-Global food losses and food waste. Interpack 2011. Düsseldorf, Germany. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e.pdf
Gunders, D. (2012). Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf
Iverson, L. (2015). Healthy food for a healthy world: Wasted food wasted nutrients. Retrieved from https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/blog/global-food-thought/healthy-food-healthy-world-wasted-food-wasted-nutrients
Mansharamani, V. (2016). The shocking amount of leftover turkey that ends up in landfills. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/column-shocking-amount-leftover-turkey-ends-landfills
Pomranz, M. (2017). The Amount of Turkey Wasted over Thanksgiving is Unbelievable. Retrieved from https://www.foodandwine.com/fwx/food/turkey-waste-thanksgiving
USEPA (2014). Food Waste Management in the United States, 2014. Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-12/documents/food_waste_management_2014_12082016_508.pdf
Image Source: Napolitano, S. (2016). The Impact of Food waste during Thanksgiving. Retrieved from https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/styles/detail_image800w/public/Thankgivinginfographic_111716.jpg?itok=k6bR7G8G