Fueling Food: Policy & Possibility

“80% of the world’s hungry are directly involved in food production”

~ GOOD infographic

This colorful depiction of our current state and crises brings central attention to the two sides of food waste: beginning of supply chain spoilage due to challenges with storage, refrigeration and transport in developing countries and the high level of end use waste in industrialized nations. The juxtaposition of these issues framed by the opening statistic is fascinating when considering how low agricultural exposure there is typiclally with the demographic involved in the latter wastefulness. Perhaps this points to parts of the system that could lead to leverage points, and while we mull over behavior change, for now what do we do with our present waste stream to reduce its amount and capture value from inevitable food waste?

First, make the system visible – Finland has recently done so with the Foodspill I project documenting its progressive low level of waste in distribution:

Compare for example to Canada:

With a much higher percentage of household generated waste, policy efforts to effect change in this sector are beginning to bring momentum through small but substantial changes such as in Vancouver BC. Messaging to participants is as key as the policy enactment is itself and creative ways to frame the conversation continue to be needed.

“There’s no question that waste is an opportunity. Waste has incredible energy potential, and if that potential can be harnessed in a way that doesn’t unleash pollution, it can be transformative on a national scale.’’ ~ Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator

Exciting state specific policy is being formed in the U.S. to address commercial food waste, with breaking news out of Massachusetts. The impact this could equal is illustrated by numbers captured in 24 hour waste audit  at one Illinois Whole Foods.

Beyond compostable matter, associated packaging is an interesting component of food waste these efforts will have to address. What if the possibility of less to no packaging waste existed? Or does it? Enter the upcoming Austin, Texas grocery:


3 responses

  1. I was intrigued by the in.gredients unique marketing strategy on a zero waste grocer. In reality, people do this all the time. When I worked at the farmer’s market in Bend, many customers would bring in their own containers and dump the berries or produce into them. At Whole Foods, they do this as well but it is not a 100% common place practice for all the customers. It will be interesting to see how their business grows and expands in the very city where WF started.

  2. Finland. Finland? Why is Finland motivated to track this sort of things. I’m curious about how the programs there differ form that in Canada within those different categories (household, industrial, transportation etc.). And it seems like some of these are so avoidable with low cost investments. So why do they keep happening?

  3. Love this post, Amanda! A great look at the problem and the ways in which people are addressing it. And kudos to Massachusetts for leading the way in policy. Hopefully it can be a model not only for other states but also nationally.

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