June 7 - Pope Francis Decries Food Waste

Food waste and how to address it is an ongoing challenge in this country.

Between 30-40% of the food supply in the US is thrown away. In fact, food is the most prevalent item in the waste stream. While the environmental impact of landfilling organic material is serious, there is a larger issue at stake. In his weekly audience, Pope Francis said wasting food is like stealing from the poor.

"Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value," Francis said, comparing this attitude to the frugality of "our grandparents" who "used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food."

Much of the food that is thrown in the trash could be used to feed the hungry and spoiled food is easily recycled; many groups in the US, including the USDA and EPA are working to find a solution to this problem. This week they launched the US Food Waste Challenge.

"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste," said Secretary [Tom] Vilsack. "Not only could this food be going to folks who need it - we also have an opportunity to reduce the amount of food that ends up in America's landfills. By joining together with EPA and businesses from around the country, we have an opportunity to better educate folks about the problem of food waste and begin to address this problem across the nation."

Photo Credit: USDA