Earth Matters: Fight Food Waste

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By Lynn Capuano

We waste a lot of food in this country and around the world. There is waste at every stage of food production, starting from when it is harvested, and ending with when we clear our plates at the end of a meal.

Studies indicate that roughly 30 percent of all food grown, harvested, and distributed globally is lost or wasted. Food loss and waste affect food supply chains by lowering income for food producers, increasing costs for food consumers, and reducing access to food.

Around the world, nearly one billion people do not get enough food to eat. All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed 2 billion people – more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe.

In addition to the impact food waste has on food cost, food availability, and incomes derived from food production, it also has a significant impact on our environment.

Estimates suggest that 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed.

The emissions come from the processing, packaging, transport, and disposal of food. These climate change causing emissions negatively impact our ability to grow food by changing weather patterns like rainfall and by causing floods and droughts.

Additionally, whole ecosystems needed to pollinate plants are disrupted, further jeopardizing global food systems.

Addressing food waste is a global priority that we can support locally.
Food loss and waste is one of the areas where individual action truly can make a difference. It is an easy thing to reduce food waste in your own home.

Focus on only buying what you will use before it goes bad; only serve what will be eaten; use leftovers for another meal; and, of course, compost any food scraps that can be composted and not used for leftovers.

Now you can also help reduce food waste outside your home through the anti-food waste app, Too Good To Go.

According to their website, Too Good To Go is on a mission to change the amount of food worldwide that goes to waste and to reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions. They are doing this through an app that allows you to save surplus food from local stores and restaurants. Over 37 million people are using the app and have saved nearly 72 million meals since 2016.

The app allows you to search your area, and within 2, 3, 5, 10 or 20 miles of your location, for any restaurants or stores offering severely discounted meals for pick up that day or the next day.

The meals are a surprise and consist of whatever food is surplus for the restaurant or store that day. You can advise the store or restaurant of any allergies you have to ensure your surprise bag does not contain items you cannot eat.

You pay $3.99-$5.99 for what normally costs $12, $15 or more. It is an amazing deal and you’re doing something consequential besides.
Unfortunately, for those of us living on Long Island, there are very few businesses participating, so our choices are limited and often a 30 minute or more drive away. We need to change this. Here is what we each can do right now to address the problem of food loss and waste in our communities.

1. Download the app Too Good To Go
2. If you are in an area where local stores and restaurants are participating, start reserving surprise bags for yourself

3. Whether there are stores or restaurants local to you already participating or not, use the app to recommend a store or restaurant to Too Good To Go. To do this, select the More option at the bottom of the screen. This brings up a choice to open the “Help Center.” Select Help Center and then select Join Too Good To Go. Then you will see the first choice, “I know a store that should join Too Good To Go.” By selecting that you are brough to a screen where you can recommend a store by typing it in the message box. Too Good To Go will contact the store or restaurant about joining. I suggest you let the store or restaurant know that you made the recommendation and encourage them to use the app to request to join To Good To Go (directions below).

4. Talk to the managers or owners of your favorite stores and restaurants and encourage them to join Too Good To Go. They can do so by first downloading the app and selecting More at the bottom of the screen. They then should select Help Center and then select Join Too Good To Go. From there, select the second choice, I own a store and I would like to join Too Good To Go. This choice will take a store through a series of questions to join Too Good To Go.

It is a pretty simple way to make a tremendous difference. More information is available at https://toogoodtogo.org/en/. Please check out the website and download the app for yourself. We gave it a try recently and got 6 slices of gourmet pizza for $4.99 from Pizzabar 141 in Woodbury. It was delicious and what a bargain!

Unfortunately, the restaurant is 25 minutes away so doing that regularly is not realistic. But I’ll be recommending restaurants and stores and telling all my favorite places about this fantastic opportunity to reduce food waste and loss.

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