I heard on a talk show that the amount of energy we waste by making food that is wasted in the US is equal to the oil that we import, because it takes natural gas to make fertilizer. How do we recoup this energy?
Just to be clear, eating too much meat is the biggest energy waster. 70% of farm land is used to grow food to feed cows. Americans eat about 2-3 pounds of beef a week on average. Cutting this down to the Surgeon General’s 1/4 a pound a week or less would save the most energy of anything. Growing food on small farms that use animal waste and crops residues to fertilize would also save energy. What about the food that gets thrown out?
First, we need to support gleaning. Charities like “Gleaning for the World”, Society of St. Andrew, and the Weld Food Bank gather food left in the field by machine harvesting. Society of St. Andrews has volunteers who can give a family the vegetables it need for a year for just $100 in donations. These Charities should get donations and volunteers until they can cover all crop areas. Society of St. Andrews also redistributes potatoes that are over stocked during the trucking process. This counters the huge amount of food left in the fields and distribution.
Second, shop from a store that donates nearly expired food to local food pantries and groups like food not bombs. Also give and or volunteer at local food banks. A food bank like the Central Virginia Food Bank takes dented cans, day old bread, and other still good items and prepares meals and distributes groceries to needy families. With volunteers and donations they can provide $12-$25 worth of food to a family for $1. This counters waste in retail stores.
Third, reduce waste when you eat. In restaurants which offer huge portions, share an entrée or get just an appetizer or soup. At home, let the food in your fridge run out before the next trip to the store. This can be healthy. I find myself eating that broccoli and lettuce that I bought but did not eat as fast as the walnuts.
Ideally with all this advice followed, huge amounts of the interior of the USA would not be used for farming and could be a vast restored Prairie National Park complete with a Prairie Trail to Rival the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Ecotourism and Bison watching could replace low paid farm jobs and farm debt. This would mean no excess runoff in the Mississippi River so the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico would go away and the seafood industry would be restored. Better Stream buffers would mean less flooding of the Mississippi for St. Louis and New Orleans. All this could start from wasting less food.