Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my first blog post! Happy anniversary Make Haste Not Waste! Thank you to everyone who tunes in to hear/see what I’m up to.
Yesterday was also the day I heard a story on NPR about the National Resources Defense Council’s latest report on food waste.
I know I haven’t devoted much space yet to the issue of food waste on a national or global scale. It is a serious subject that involves the environment, economics, politics, social justice, and more. If you are tired of reading and want a quick overview in the form of video/infographics, watch this:
I made it my goal, starting last year, to reduce my contribution to the waste. While I haven’t yet started weighing my garbage and my compost (don’t count that out as a possibility! I’m waiting for Leanpath to make affordable home units), I can look at changes in my food spending.
I have been using a program for about 6 years now in which I try to track and categorize my spending. My husband used the same and we merged our tracking together when we married 3 years ago. Other factors are involved, of course, so I add the caveat here that this is not perfectly scientific:
|Dates: January 1 – September 18|
|Grocery Expenditure||Dining Expenditure|
|2011||X (Baseline)||X (Baseline)|
|2012||X + 1%||X + 10.3%|
|2013||X – 9%||X – 1.9%|
This drop occurred in the face of rising food prices: according to the USDA Economic Research Service, the Food Consumer Price Index increased 3.7% in 2011, 2.6% in 2012, and is predicted between 1.5 and 2.5% for 2013.
See? It pays to not waste!
Yesterday’s report addressed a specific issue of food labeling–the confusing “Best by” and “Sell by” dates that aren’t necessarily being used correctly, responsibly, or sensibly. Date labeling is almost completely unregulated, and “best by” or “use before” dates might simply indicate the manufacturer’s idea of peak freshness. The suggestion was that there be a clear, standardized system for consumers, more useful information, such as safe handling instructions, and transparency about methods for selecting dates.
I think about the progress that can be achieved in one year, in terms of increased awareness and policy change, and I’m not sure change is happening as quickly as it should. I applaud the NRDC for its efforts to break the problem down into parts. Imagine if the consumer started seeing a “Freeze by” date on all of their perishables–perhaps that would help shape a culture of planning and preserving. But these parts still need action and effort and advocacy. The UK did it: the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) started an initiative called Love Food Hate Waste (sound familiar?) and measured in 2011 a reduction in avoidable household food and drink waste of 18% since 2006/2007.
Change in the United States would probably require our politicians to take on these subjects–difficult, perhaps, when they are stuck fighting over the debt ceiling. Can things change? I sure hope so. And I know it is hugely challenging. But if you think about it, only in the past century or less has our food waste has become so rampant. Maybe it will take 100 years to get things under control!