Food Loss and Waste is a paper in the series on The Need for Agricultural Innovation to Sustainably Feed the World by 2050. Reducing food loss and waste (FLW) is one of the key strategies to combat hunger and sustainably feed the world.This paper provides a critical overview of U.S. FLW through an objective, balanced, and data-driven approach. There are four sections. First, the magnitude of the problem is described using four major data sources at the national level and the different scope and boundaries of these data are compared; there follows a discussion of the three fundamental resources for primary food production—land, water, and fertilizer—that are embedded in the lost and wasted food, plus other resource costs. Second, the authors discuss why FLW occurs, drawing attention to the many issues of the FLW problem at the consumer end—food-wasting behavior, the “whys,” and the interacting influence of psychological, social, cultural, and economic factors; they also describe major actions that are being taken across the nation to decrease FLW. Third, a hard look at existing data on the quantity of food waste prevention, recovery, and recycling is taken by compiling all major sources of data that could be located, providing a “reality check” on how well the country is performing on lessening FLW. Finally, the authors present an interpretative and critical analysis concerning three key issues: How can the United States work toward the 50% reduction goal by 2030 knowingly and confidently? What technological innovations may be game changers? What other approaches could be explored to influence consumer food behavior for the better?
Chair: Zhengxia Dou, Clinical Studies/NBC, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. IP62, September 2018, 20 pp. Available free online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).
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