- On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee held its first full hearing on the 70 billion pounds of food wasted in the U.S. every year, attracting celebrity chefs such as Tom Colicchio and top industry representatives. Today, the chefs and leaders will continue the discussion at the White House.
- According to Sustainable Brands, the celebrity guests presented a petition signed by more than 4,000 chefs and food advocates to 22 Senate and House offices, asking for more food reduction policies.
- Among the solutions being discussed is a bill — sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine — to standardize food labeling, which could help prevent waste.
The national food waste conversation has gained increasing attention since the U.S. set a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030. Currently the country spends $218 billion every year to grow, process, transport, and dispose of food that is never eaten. The country's estimated 40% waste rate is above the global average and presents serious disposal challenges.
Meghan Stasz, senior director of sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), testified at the hearing that members recycled nearly 94% of food waste generated from manufacturing in 2014 and donated over 800 million pounds to food banks in 2015, but recognized that more needed to be done.
Solving this issue will require a multi-pronged approach. The GMA estimates that 44% of waste comes from consumers and that standardized labeling may only account for 8% of that waste. Education, such as the new "Save the Food" campaign, is part of an effort to raise awareness.
Visibility will be raised as more cities expand curbside programs and entrepreneurs find new ways to make money from transporting food scraps. New state and city zero waste goals will also help drive the conversation. Yet to really get the message across, it may take more publicity efforts from celebrity chefs and public leaders.