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   Food waste is excessive, expensive, and environmentally harmful. 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted and food makes up 20% of landfill weight. Food waste can be found in the production, processing, retail, and consumer stages of produce. Fruits and vegetables may not even be harvested because of pests, contamination, or they are spoiled. The food that does make it past that stage can be spoiled or damaged in the processing stage because of inefficiency. It takes so long to process the food that it can become spoiled. Also, if there is too much of the produce and they can't sell it it will (you guessed it) get thrown away. Next, is retail. This is the stage when the produce gets to the grocery stores. Don't deny it, but if you had the choice between a bruised banana and a perfect yellow one, you would obviously choose the ripe one. So, that bruised banana GETS THROWN AWAY! Also, similar to the processing stage, if stores can't sell all of their produce because the overstocked, then it's off to the landfills. Another thing the causes food waste is "best before" dates or "sell by-dates". Food that is in great condition is thrown away because of a few numbers on a box. At the final stage, consumer, when the food makes it to the home. As humans, at parties or gatherings, we have to serve a large amount of food to make the table look full. Also, in a fridge, you can forget about all the food hidden in the back and by the time you find it again it has spoiled. Poor meal planning causes food waste because when you're at the store you might forget yu already have that ingredient at home. Methane released y food is 21 times more powerful and harmful than carbon dioxide.


   This may sound scary and it is, but there are solutions. Buying your produce from local farmers markets not only reduce the carbon emissions from the trucks that has to transport the produce, but there is less food waste in the process. Also, instead of relying on the "best by" dates you can look at the produce and see if there is any mold or if it tastes/smells funny. When serving food, try to only serve the necessary amount. To have a more efficient meal plan, first look at your fridge and see if there are ingredients to make a meal. Diverting 15% of the food that currently goes to waste would be enough to cut the number of food insecure in half. We can help the planet and help the workers that get us food. Let's save the world one meal at a time!

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