Katharine Hayhoe: Project Drawdown Ranks Food Waste First
Editor’s Note: The following contains excerpts from esteemed climate scientist and climate communicator Katharine Hayhoe and her LinkedIn-based newsletter. See links below to subscribe. Greener Davis and Enviro Woodland also have great resources and information to help you avoid food waste!
The Problem of Food Waste
Project Drawdown recently released a new analysis ranking the top 20 high-impact climate actions households can take to cut their carbon footprint by up to 25 percent. Reducing food waste [was high on the list]!
Every year, a full third of the food produced on this planet is wasted. That amounts to some 1 billion tons. And when it decays, all the food that doesn’t make it to our tables – or does, then gets thrown out – generates about 8 percent of the world’s heat-trapping gases. That’s more than double the impact of all the flights in the world; and its lost calories and wasted money, too.
Climate change is affecting what you can find on the shelves of your local grocery store, too. This year, Peru, historically the world’s largest blueberry exporter, has exported less than half as many blueberries as last year, thanks to abnormally high temperatures during the growing season. Climate change is also cutting into orange juice supply. In Brazil, hot weather combined with citrus greening disease has slashed production by 40%, while in the U.S., hurricanes coupled with a bacterial disease are also decimating orange crops. Tomatoes, too, will have trouble in a warming world. By the middle of the century, tomato yields could drop 18 percent in the traditional Italian tomato-growing region of Foggia. Growing regions will likely need to shift to stave off a crisis in not just tomatoes but many other crops, from wine grapes to corn.
You might be surprised to know that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are reducing the nutritional content of food, too. Plants are growing bigger and faster but with the same amount of nutrients. Per serving, this means the protein and mineral content of many foods is dropping by anywhere between 5 to 15 percent. People who can afford ample food and vitamins won’t be overly affected, but this will exacerbate the malnutrition and lack of nutrients many already experience in low-income countries who’ve done the least to cause the problem. Once again, climate impacts are profoundly unfair.
In the U.S., for-profit companies like Imperfect Foods and Ugly Food allow consumers to make sure they are buying perfectly good food that would otherwise be thrown out because it doesn’t look quite right. [The good news is that many local organizations] collect and redistribute food free of charge that would otherwise go to a landfill. Many non-profits rely on volunteers. If you’re interested, you could help out!
Yolo County donations and free food. Never go hungry! Avoid waste!
2. Community Harvest of Davis Volunteers harvest fruit from residential trees and donates it to agencies that feed people in need. Donations are tax deductible.
3. Woodland Community Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization that harvests extra fruit and vegetables from backyards and small farms, then passes it along to local charities (Yolo County Food Bank, Woodland Food Closet, etc.) to feed the hungry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Freedges in Davis (map of freedges worldwide: https://freedge.org/locations/) Donated by community members. Open to everyone!
- Davis Food Co-op 620 G St
- UC Davis Silo 420 Hutchison
- UC Davis MU 225 E Quad Ave
- East Davis Freedge 2013 Whittier Dr
- Eureka Freedge 1221 Eureka Ave
5. ASUCD – UC Davis Pantry. No UC Davis student has to miss a meal or live without basic necessities. Visit The Pantry for free groceries, food items, and toiletries.
6. If you have extra food, consider donating to the Yolo Food Bank.
Solutions: Katharine takes action
Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful things you can do in your own life to trim your own carbon footprint. … [S]hare with others to make it contagious.
I’ve changed my own grocery shopping habits to reduce food waste. Instead of taking one big trip to the grocery store every two weeks, a number of years ago I sold the freezer, cleaned out the fridge, and now shop once or twice a week. I buy only what I need for meals over the next couple of days, including more fresh veggies and fish rather than frozen foods. With the fridge half empty, I can see everything I have in there and use what I have on hand before it goes bad.
You can compost your produce scraps, either at your own home or … [in Yolo County by placing food scraps in your household organics bin]. In the US, you can also download an app called Too Good To Go that matches consumers concerned about cost and climate with restaurants that have surplus food to sell.
Subscribe to the Greener Davis newsletter to learn about food composting opportunities and the new rules for businesses.
Project Drawdown: Reduce Food Waste webpage
Subscribe to Katherine’s newsletter here: https://bit.ly/3T3095f