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Dana Frasz wants to see a Food Shift – away from waste

Forty percent of all the food produced in the US is wasted. But a number of efforts in the US – such as Food Shift – and others abroad are taking on the problem.

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How feasible is it?

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Dowser.org reports on the practical and human elements of social innovation, highlighting creative approaches to social change to help people understand how to build better communities and a better world.

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We have trash and recycling removal in this country, why not have a food-recovery service sector that recovers and redistributes surplus food as an extension of our current waste management system?

It may sound crazy, but it is realistic strategy and could create a lot of jobs in the green economy. Generating revenue from food that would otherwise be wasted is possible, but by no means easy. It’s a difficult challenge to ensure food safety, to establish new distribution channels, and to pilot new models that are outside of the current norm.

Why do stores not simply list fresh foods items as 50 percent off at night, an hour or so before closing? That seems to make sense to avoid waste and still make some money. 

It makes so much sense – and people love a good deal. Berkeley Bowl estimates it sells $1,500 per day of produce off its bargain shelf, which offers bags of damaged or nearly expired produce for 99 cents.  Andronico's Community Markets is running a program with Food Star to sell cosmetically imperfect produce at a low cost, and Zero Percent is a technology that is allowing food establishments to post their surplus through an online application at either a discount or for donation. These are all great innovations that more businesses should adopt to reduce waste, save money, and protect the environment.

Are there models for food waste elsewhere in the world (that you’ve read or seen) that you would like to see implemented here in the US?

The United Kingdom is leading the way on this issue. A campaign there called Love Food Hate Waste has reduced food waste by 18 percent over the course of five years. The UK has also standardized date labels so they are not so confusing for consumers. Many grocery stores there provide storage instructions for fruits and vegetables and informational tips and ads are displayed in over 12,000 stores. Instead of buy-one-get-one-free promotions, some UK stores are piloting a buy-one-give-one-free or get one later program. I also really like Rubbies in the Rubble – a company in the UK making jam and chutney from rescued produce.

What can each person do? 

Become a food waste champion within your family and circle of friends! There are lots of recipes and other tips online. Here is a storage guide.

This article originally appeared at Dowser.org.

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