Even though the world is witnessing a growing food crisis with millions of people suffering from malnutrition and starvation, at the same time we are also seeing a food waste epidemic, in which 1.3 billion tons of food is unused each year. Closer to home, 31 percent of food postharvest gets thrown out, according to the Department of Agriculture. And per household, the average American family will waste more than 2 million calories per year.
Statistics aside, what does this all mean? Well, with more food headed to landfills, our global carbon footprint is increasing significantly, to the point where food has become a pollutant. This environmental cost equates to approximately 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere annually. Meanwhile, growing crops and raising livestock in the U.S. contributes to 10% of this country’s greenhouse emissions. Combine these numbers, and what do you get? A stark future and an alarming problem that contributes to climate change.
Of course, you may be wondering exactly why and how so much food goes into landfills instead of people’s mouths. Food gets thrown out most frequently because we make too much of it when cooking meals, its sell-by date is incorrectly interpreted, or it sits on our shelves for too long and goes bad. By 2030, the UN hopes to cut food waste in half. And luckily for us and the planet, there are many different ways to correct our food waste problem.
For instance, we can start composting our food, employing a standard system for food labels, and using more natural food preservatives—such as carrageenan—to improve shelf life. Stable food decreases food waste, because it allows food products to travel great distances to reach our grocery stores. When it is used in packaged food and beverages, carrageenan extends and protects nutritional value, thereby making it more widely available and less likely to wind up in a trash can. In addition, carrageenan allows foods to safely be stored at room temperature. This reduces transportation and storage costs, which in turn saves money and makes your food more affordable.
It is clear that there isn’t one solution we can use to eliminate food waste, and the world needs to rethink the way it throws out food. But we can start by using natural and sustainable carrageenan, which ensures that we are able to feed our families smarter and healthier food that won’t end up in a landfill. Creating a sustainable future means using sustainable food now.