The recently released 2016 Food Sustainability Index, compiled by the non-profit Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition and the Economist Intelligence Unit, has ranked 25 countries on nutrition, agriculture, and food waste.
France seems to know what they are doing because they came in first place in overall performance, ranking first in both the “least wasteful” and “nutrition” categories. This isn’t surprising considering their move to ban food waste in grocery stores – asking all shops to donate leftovers to the needy. Japan and Canada were also in the top three on overall performance. Germany came in first, followed by Canada and Japan in the “sustainable agriculture” category.
So you’re probably thinking, ok great, but how did the United States do? Well, really bad. The U.S. came in 19th for overweight children, 24th for the prevalence of over-nourishment and on food waste, the U.S. ranked third-last.
What does “over-nourishment” mean, exactly? According to the study, it’s defined as a type of malnutrition resulting from consumption of more than the necessary requirement for essential nutrients, or of more calories than needed to remain healthy. Basically, the U.S. is eating too much.
Not only is the U.S. eating too much and considered “overnourished,” but the U.S. is wasting more food than 22 other countries on the list (twenty pounds per person, per month, according to the index).
Considering that in the U.S, we waste around 60 million metric tons of food every year, and globally we throw out almost 1.3 billion tons, food waste is a monumental problem. Food waste not only is an ill use of valuable resources that could go to the hungry, but it’s detrimental to the environment. The U.N reports that food waste alone accounts for 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. In the U.S., 10.5 trillion gallons of water are wasted every year – water that could meet the needs of 500 million people. If stopped, we could save 70 percent of American freshwater resources lost to food wastage! Not to mention all the money you could save from actually using all of your groceries!
In New York City alone, around 20 percent of New Yorkers struggle to afford to put food on the table and around one-third of the four million tons of waste the city sends to landfill every year is comprised of wasted food. With one in eight people still suffering from food scarcity, we need to make a change. Here are six ways you can cut down on food waste, ten ways to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle and here are ways to minimize waste in cooking.
We might think our food choices only impact us, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In addition to reducing your own food waste, you can start eating with the planet in mind by choosing more plant-based foods over animal products. To learn more, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.
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