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Learning to Reduce Food Waste and Make It Work For Us

Image via Flickr by Nick Saltmarsh

Globally, about 40 percent of the food humans grow end up wasted before it reaches the table of a hungry family. Much of the waste occurs in third world countries, where the supply chain infrastructure is insufficient to harvest, prepare, and ship foods quickly enough to prevent deterioration. Until recently, much of this food waste was reintroduced back into the farm to serve as organic compost for growing more crops, or perhaps to feed livestock, which would in turn be used for more food. 

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However, as third world nations have learned to cash in on this food waste as biofuels, less of this precious organic waste is being returned to the farms. This means farmers are forced to buy fertilizers, which drives up their operational costs and, in turn, the prices we pay for food. New initiatives are underway to teach growers how to reduce food waste, as well as how to make the best use out of spoiled crops that can’t be saved.

Part of the solution lies in bettering the infrastructures in nations where our food is grown. Processing facilities closer to the farms would cut transport time, and better technology for handling and storing foods at the farm site could also help. Additionally, better roads and transportation could make a huge difference in getting foods to market faster to reduce spoilage.

In Cameroon, for example, farmers have been taught how to grow mushrooms using waste coffee pulp. Not only does this give these growers an additional income, it also puts healthy food on tables of less fortunate families, who might otherwise not have enough to eat. Though powers within the supply chain have recognized and begun to address food waste issues, much more work needs to be done to turn the world’s massive food waste into usable food sources for a growing population of hungry people. [/show_to]

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