The foods we choose to put on our plates — or toss away – could have more of an ecological impact than many of us realize.
On Earth Day, here are some ways to consider how our diet impacts the planet.
Waste not, want not
You've heard the numbers on food waste. More than 30 percent of available food is tossed each year in America. It's enough to fill Chicago's 1,450-foot-tall Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) 44 times over.
The U.S. has set an official goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. Universities have begun to chip away at the food waste issue by promoting ugly fruit and vegetables and shifting away from pre-cooked, buffet style food, instead serving more cook-to-order options that can cut down on waste. Food service companies are working with farmers and chefs to get more blemished but edible produce into cafeterias across the country. Even religious groups are getting into the act, raising attention to the problem of food waste among the faithful and connecting with restaurants, retailers and food banks to help redirect food to hungry mouths that might otherwise end up in landfills.
And there are a host of proposed solutions. Check out this report that highlights which solutions are likely to provide most bang for the buck. Among the most cost-effective strategies: educating consumers on food waste – including changes you can make in your own kitchen. (Here are some tips to get you started – like how to tell if eggs are still good past their expiration date.)
Rethink your beef and lamb habit
Everything we eat has an environmental footprint – it takes land, water and energy to grow crops and raise livestock. The folks at the World Resources Institute have calculated the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing a gram of edible protein of various foods.