Stories / Impact

What This Strawberry Says About Food Waste

Maggie Borden

March 16, 2017


Food waste is an issue that touches every aspect of our food system, and requires action from the field to the fork. Although much is lost on its way from the farm to the store, "consumers are actually responsible for the largest share of wasted food," says Dana Gunders, senior scientist for food and agriculture programs at the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). With that in mind, NRDC partnered with the Ad Council on the Save the Food Campaign, a massive undertaking targeting television, video, radio, outdoor, digital, and print advertising to help get the word out about the realities of the food that ends up in the trash, and those that never make it to our plate. Gunders shared a few thoughts on the aims of the campaign, and suggestions for what consumers can do to start changing their habits.

  • "Much of the waste that occurs in grocery stores and restaurants comes from trying to please the customer—for instance, we have expectations of how much spaghetti we should get for the $10 we just paid. When you peel back the layers, you find that a large portion of food wasting is due to our cultural acceptance of it."
  • "Consumers can reduce waste at home a few ways: most importantly, be careful with what you buy. Shopping is where you commit to food, so be sure you actually have the time and a plan to use it. Secondly, freeze, freeze, freeze. Almost anything can be frozen, including milk, eggs (scrambled but raw), cheese (best shredded), and bread (sliced). And third, understand the date labels on food. They do not mean food is bad or unsafe, but rather are the manufacturer’s estimate of when it’s at its freshest or peak quality."
  • "If I walk down the street and throw half a sandwich on the sidewalk, people think I’m crazy. But if I throw that same half sandwich in a garbage can, people don’t think as much of it. That speaks to how acceptable it’s become to throw food out, and with the Save the Food campaign, we are trying to seed a shift in that paradigm."

Watch the video above for a sample of the campaign, and learn more about how you can fight food waste at the Save the Food website.

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Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.