Reducing Food Waste Should Be Top of Mind

“No Taste for Waste” Initiative Starts a Big Conversation

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

As we end 2018 and head to 2019, it’s a good idea to think about reducing food waste. CropLife America, a national trade organization that represents manufacturers, formulators, and distributors of pesticides, is working to minimize the amount of food Americans throw away every day. Kellie Bray, Senior Director of Government Affairs for CropLife, encourages Americans to start the conversation of food waste.

“This is a conversation that is so important not only to growers and producers but to consumers and the people who are really cognizant of food issues. Not only making sure that they save money and food in their own homes but making sure too that people who need food have it,” Bray urged.

In order to set this conversation into motion, CropLife, along with the American Farm Bureau and Meredith Corporation, have partnered on an initiative called, “No Taste for Waste.” The initiative has worked to create a “bookazine” that was available in grocery stores and even your local Target.

“It’s a combination of recipes, farmer’s stories, and tips and tricks on how to maximize the food you have now, so nothing goes to waste,” Bray explained.

Get the Facts on Food Waste

  1. The amount of food wasted in the United States equates to more than 1,250 calories per day, per person, annually.
  2. Food waste is responsible for at least 2.6 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. The number one contributor to all landfill content is food waste, contributing around 21 percent each year.
  4. Each year, between 125 and 160 billion pounds of food are left uneaten in the United States.
  5. Between 21 to 33 percent of agricultural water use is accounted for by food waste.
  6. Cropland of uneaten food accounts for between 18 to 28 percent of U.S. total cropland, which is more than the entire state of New Mexico.
  7. Households are responsible for the largest portion of all food waste. At 238 pounds of food per person, that equals 76 billion pounds!
  8. Many farmers cut back on food waste by using unsold produce as feed for livestock or compost in the soil.

For more information on how to prevent food waste, visit: notasteforwaste.org

Sound Science Funding for Farmers

Funding for Sound Science is Critical

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Increased funding to make farming easier is a priority, an expert told California Ag Today recently. LaKisha Odom is the science program director for the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research based in Washington, DC. Funding sound science is a goal for the foundation.

“We are interested in increasing the amount of funding that is available to make farming and decision making easier,” Odom said.

This is all based on sound science. Their foundation base depends on the readily available funding.

“We match public-private dollars and increase that amount of funding available to fund sound science,” she explained.

The funding is for foundations and agencies that will assist farmers.

“The universities, industry partners, foundations and the research that’s funded by those entities can then inform those decision makers to assist those farmers who are making those decisions,” she said.

“We were provided $200 million dollars in the 2014 Farm Bill,” Odom added.

There are seven challenge areas that the foundation focuses on: water scarcity; urban agriculture; food waste; food loss; making my plate your plate, which focuses on nutrition; protein challenge, which focuses on animal sustainability; and innovation pathways.

Fresno State is one of the founding partners.

“I’m working with the irrigation innovation consortium, which is a consortium of university partners as well as industry partners, and Fresno State is one of our partners in that,” Odom said.

They are working with Dr. Davis at Fresno State for ways in which they can make innovations in irrigation and make water issues a little less challenging for farmers.

Food Waste Solutions Include the American Farmer (Part 2)

Biotechnology is Part of the Food Waste Solution

by Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm Director

Last week, California Ag Today published an article about the food waste in America discussion held at the 2016 Maximum Residue Level (MRL) Workshop in San Francisco. Jay Vroom, CEO of CropLife America, felt the farmer’s voice was largely absent from the topic of food waste. In the second part of this series, Vroom advocates for the use of bioscience to help eliminate food waste.

According to Vroom, the most vital occurrence of food waste is in production. Consumer food waste is very high, but Vroom believes bioscience is key to keeping the statistics low in all areas of production. “The opportunities for crop protection and biotechnology span a visual that would certainly overcome food waste yield potential with biotechnology,” he said.

In addition, Vroom stated that other genetic enhancements, crop protection tools, seed bed preparation, soil health, moisture management, modern plant nutrient, fertility programs and equipment advances all underscore why farmers need to be included in the food waste discussion. “Most especially,” Vroom said agriculture community can contribute, “the miracles of precision agriculture that are out there in the hands of farmers in almost every corner of the United States today and in almost every farming system.”

At the MRL Workshop, Vroom told the audience, “The farmer’s role and the farmer’s voice in all this is largely absent. We’re looking to help lead—with many of you and others who are willing to participate in a broad coalition—in getting the farmer’s voice in there.”

Jay Vroom, CEO, CropLife America
Jay Vroom, CEO of CropLife America

The farmer’s voice, equipment and biotechnology are imperative because, “modern genetic seed advancements and breeding also generate plant material that is healthier and results in longer storability,” said Vroom. If food were to have longer storability, it wouldn’t be as much of a consumer issue.”

Vroom’s affiliates, who have surveyed the food waste landscape and uncovered results that encourage farmers to speak up, concluded, “The farmer’s voice in the food waste conversation is an opportunity that we see as wide open.”

“I think a place for us to start would be to get the facts together,” Vroom stated, “such as, ‘How much more food would be wasted if the technologies the farmers used to produce those crops today weren’t available and you would have a lot less storability, shelf life, etcetera?’”

“We know that insects, disease, weed control, regulators, fumigants, direct and indirect food waste data is out there,” Vroom said. “We need to gather that up, work together, and assemble it by crop to tell that story about the crops that are directly consumed by consumers.”

Vroom discussed food waste mostly with regard to produce; however, animals and dairy are equally important in the conversation. “Certainly  it gets a little more complicated with protein; but once again, better animal nutrition results in less food waste from meat, milk and eggs. Those are animal agriculture partnerships that we don’t often reach out to, yet another opportunity for us to be able to tell that indirect story as well,” he said.

Vroom contended there are many ways for farmers in every aspect of agriculture to “join forces, connect to the food waste and food safety debate, and to eliminate these critical issues, which certainly time to time is also front of mind for consumers and voters. And we’ve got a great story to tell,” he concluded.

Food Waste Solutions Include the American Farmer

American Farmers are Part of the Food Waste Solution

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

At the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) Harmonization Workshop in San Francisco earlier this month, California Ag Today spoke to Jay Vroom, CEO, CropLife America about food waste. This is part one in a two-part series; part two will be published on June 21, 2016.

Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA) launched the MRL workshop with a discussion of food waste in America and the strong message that we can all do better. We can all reduce food waste in our homes and restaurants; farmers readily reduce food waste in their growing practices. Vroom said famers have the opportunity to spread the word on how they are a big part of the solution in reducing food waste.

Jay Vroom, president and CEO, CropLife America
Jay Vroom, CEO, CropLife America

“Readily-available facts about food waste on social media are often sensitive and misunderstood,” said Vroom, particularly the comparison between the large amounts of wasted food every year and poverty levels. Vroom said circulating speculation includes the claim, “Roughly 80 billion pounds of food is wasted annually and supposedly accounts for an estimated 20% of landfill volume.

The majority of food waste comes from the consumer level, Vroom noted, and includes school cafeterias, restaurants and institutional facilities. “Yet, growers are just as important because the product they are producing suffers an avoidable fate in early production,” Vroom said.

The grower’s voice deserves to be recognized at the start of the food waste conversation—where it begins—in production losses. “Farmers do not get credit where food waste has already been reduced,” Vroom stated. “We need to highlight the fact that food loss is already prevented because of modern agricultural technologies.”

“When we do landscape surveillance on the internet and elsewhere,” he said, “there’s virtually no voice of the American farmer in this conversation about food waste.” The farmer’s voice is crucial to determine the time their goods get to the consumer and the time they are thrown out, Vroom emphasized. “A consumer may have produce that goes bad within three days of purchase. If biotechnology could increase that time by a day or even two, the amount of food waste could be reduced,” Vroom said.

Part two of the series, to be published on June 20, will cover the ways Vroom recommends ensuring farmers have their voices heard and how bioscience could eliminate food waste.

Washington, D.C.-based CLA, the largest trade association that represents pesticide manufacturers, distributors and formulators in America,  supports farmers and growers with environmental policies based on scientific facts.