Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

How Corporations are Reducing Food Waste, and You Can, Too

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It seems like a no-brainer to make reducing food waste--as individuals, communities and countries--one of our highest priorities. Globally, we humans waste up to 40 percent of our food supply. Meanwhile, our population is on target to top 9 billion by 2050, and climate change is already stressing food-producing regions around the world. And what about the millions of families, many of them hard-working wage earners, who are considered "food insecure," or without the means to put food on the table regularly?  Put these facts side by side and I believe almost anyone would agree that targeting food waste makes sense.

One organization dedicated to solving the food waste problem is Re-FED, a non-profit that looks for data-driven, market-based solutions. You can find a good overview of Re-Fed's work by reading this executive summary of its Roadmap to Reduce Food Waste by 20 Percent. I was honored to play a role in a massive undertaking that culminated with the publication of three guides, or toolkits to reducing food waste, aimed at foodservice, restaurant and retail food businesses. 

Putting together the toolkits involved synthesizing data from more than 80 expert contributors, including the largest foodservice providers, restaurant chains and grocers in the country. As a writer who was brought in at the end of the data compiling and synthesizing process, it was fascinating to learn about the corporation-wide initiatives these stakeholders are thinking about or have already implemented, ranging from figuring out how to rescue and use "ugly" or less-than-perfect produce, to recycling cooking oil into fuel, or harnessing anaerobic digestion to fulfill energy needs. Re-fed and its partners' goal is to reduce the $218 billion of food waste (that's 63 million tons!) in the U.S. by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2050.

There's a lot more that we as individuals can do to reduce our own household food waste. Here is a guide from the EPA, and another, titled Save the Food, from the NRDC and the Ad Council. Good luck!

Talking Soil, Biodiversity and Deliciousness with Chef Dan Barber and The Nature Conservancy's Michael Doane