Tag Archives: food waste

Reading for Change! Make an Impact With Waste-Free Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food by Dana Gunders

Change Food welcomes you to the launch of our Reading for Change series! Here, we will be sharing reviews of some of our favorite food and farming-centered books each month. We kick off today by introducing Waste-Free Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food by Dana Gunders. In this new release, the author, a Change Food friend, provides us with practical and easy-to-follow strategies as to how to reduce food waste within our own homes. You may have seen Dana’s work featured on Dr. Oz, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, NPR, and many more media outlets — now, this knowledge is readily available for your reading pleasure.

Author Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Author Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council

According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, where Gunders resides as a Staff Scientist, the average American throws out about 25% of all their purchased food and beverages. For a family of four, this ends up being between $1,365 and $2,275 in wasted food each year. Imagine not only the money, but the opportunity cost in time spent shopping, as well as the sheer volume in produce we could save on a macro level if every household were more informed on how to conserve their groceries.

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TEDxManhattan Speaker Profile: Peter Lehner

Peter Lehner

Peter Lehner

As TEDxManhattan approaches, we’ve asked this year’s speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions.  Today we feature Peter Lehner, Executive Director of NRDC.

1) What’s the topic you’ll be speaking about?

The extent of food waste in the United States. Here in the U.S., an astonishing 40 percent of the food that is grown, processed, and transported is lost and never consumed by people, with staggering implications for our use of water, energy, and chemicals.  Of course, food is not the only thing we waste at frightening levels, and by thinking of waste more broadly we can get some ideas of how to tackle food waste.

2) Why do you feel this is important?

In the U.S., agriculture accounts for over half the land area and 80% of water consumption.  No matter how sustainably we farm, if we’re not actually eating the food, it’s a terrible use of those resources.  Furthermore, one in six Americans is food insecure.  We produce enough food to feed every person in this country well and should be doing our best to make sure that happens.

3) Are there other projects you’re also passionate about right now?

Yes!  NRDC is launching a national initiative aimed at ending an era of antibiotic dependency in the domestic livestock industry. Approximately 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are routinely put into animal feed, primarily to compensate for crowded, unsanitary feedlot conditions and quicken animal growth. This practice of routine herd or flock-wide dosing of antibiotics breeds antibiotic resistant “superbugs” that now threaten the viability of crucial antibiotics used to treat human disease. NRDC is waging a multi-pronged campaign to end this practice, building on our historic litigation victory in Spring of 2012 against FDA over the agency’s failure to regulate drug use for food animals.  You might call this a waste of our very valuable antibiotics (especially when few new antibiotics are being developed).

4) Which other TEDxManhattan speakers are you excited about hearing?  

I’m particularly excited to hear presentations by Steve Wing and Maisie Greenawalt.  The community impact of factory farms is an issue of justice as much as it is of the environment, and it’s important to understand the challenges that progressive companies face when trying to implement good ideas at scale.

5) Where can more information about your project be found?


Peter Lehner is the Executive Director of NRDC and NRDC Action Fund. NRDC, one the nation’s leading environmental advocacy organizations with over 1.3 million members and activists and 430 staff in seven offices, works to protect people’s health and families, communities, jobs, and wild spaces by accelerating clean and efficient energy, transportation and protecting our oceans, waters and homes from pollution. He is responsible for guiding NRDC’s policy positions, advocacy strategies, communications plans, development and administration, and managing NRDC’s seven offices and for leading the Action Fund’s political activities.  Since Peter’s return to NRDC in 2006, NRDC has opened new offices in Beijing and Chicago, started the Center for Market Innovation, and expanded both its policy and communications capacity. Previously, Peter served as chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office for eight years. He supervised all environmental litigation by the state, prosecuting a wide variety of polluters and developing innovative multi-state strategies targeting global warming, acid rain, and smog causing emissions. Peter previously served at NRDC as a senior attorney in charge of the water program. Before that, he created and led the environmental prosecution unit for New York City.  Peter holds an AB in philosophy and mathematics from Harvard College and is a graduate of Columbia University Law School, where he continues to teach environmental law. He also has extensive experience in sustainable farming and green business.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Top Takeaways from “Our Global Kitchen” at the Museum of Natural History

rsz_1img_0404Glynwood Institute staff traveled uptown recently to visit the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit, “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.” It’s an impressive exhibit, with separate sections dealing with how food is grown, transported, cooked, eaten and used in to celebrate different cultural milestones.  It would be impossible to do it justice in a single post, but below are some (admittedly subjective) highlights.

  • The Power of Scent: The exhibit includes information about the intermingled role of all five senses in our responses to food.  It also demonstrates this very effectively with stations that release powerful food scents (cinnamon, garlic, fennel, lavender) at the touch of a button.
  • A Doughnut by Any Other Name: Tastes differ widely around the globe, as the exhibit makes clear – but there are also many commonalities. For example, fried dough for breakfast is a staple in many countries, though the name and flavorings vary.
  • Ice Cream with Jane Austen: One particularly evocative section of the exhibit showcases meals from three very different places and time periods:  ancient Rome, where diners ate while reclining on couches; the court of Kublai Khan, where influences from around Asia were combined in an early example of fusion dining; and early 19th century England, where Jane Austen wrote about enjoying ice cream – a luxury at the time, often served molded into decorative shapes.
  • Food Waste: A striking sculpture shows the amount of food wasted annually in the United States by a family of four – on average, 1,656 pounds.  And that’s just consumer waste, not including what’s lost between the field and the fridge.
  • rsz_img_0412Windowfarms:  The exhibit showcases an indoor, vertical, hydroponic garden – the creation of 2011 TEDxManhattan speaker Britta Riley (see her TEDxManhattan talk here).  There is also a larger Windowfarm display in the Museum’s Weston Pavilion – lit up with red, white and blue grow lamps, it’s a beautiful sight.
  • Cornucopia of Food Trivia: If you enjoy fun food facts, the exhibit is full of them.  Did you know France is Europe’s leading grower – and consumer – of oysters?  Or that popcorn was enjoyed by indigenous peoples of the Americas thousands of years ago?  Or that a 5,000-year-old corpse, preserved by snow and ice, has shown that the prehistoric diet included a type of bread as well as dried fruit?

There are many other elements of the exhibit, including a working kitchen where live cooking demos take place, with the results available for sampling.  (It’s sponsored by Whole Foods, also a sponsor of TEDxManhattan).  We also enjoyed the interactive cooking table, where videos take you step-by-step through the making of four dishes, each from a different country.

The exhibit runs through August 11 and is definitely worth a visit.  But be forewarned: you will leave hungry.

Americans feel guilty about food waste

Marketing communications firm the Shelton Group today released an Eco Pulse study that reveals 39% of Americans feel the most “green” guilt about wasting food.  Read their press release for more information.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

U.K. Helping Stop Food Waste and Feed Hungry

The U.K. Government is backing a proposal that would help end supermarket waste while also helping the hungry.  Retailers would enter details of food that was nearing its expiration date into a database.  Nonprofits would use that information to pick up and get the food to those who need it.  The U.S. should have a similar program.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Putting bycatch to good use

This week the Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, signed legislation allowing fish, previously going to waste, to feed the hungry instead.  The new law allows bycatch, fish caught unintentionally while fishing for other species, to be processed for food bank distribution. As Gov. Kitzhaber puts it “This innovative solution helps the fishing industry and food processors to reduce waste while bringing food to people who are hungry.”

We definitely need more state officials thinking like him.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Food Waste

According to the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.5% of U.S. households (17.2 million households or 48.8 million Americans) were food insecure in 2010.  That means that 17.2 million homes in the U.S. had difficulty at some point during the year in providing enough food due to a lack of resources.  That left 16.2 million children under the age of 18 – more than 1 out of 6 – hungry and unable consistently to find adequate, healthy food.

During the same year – 2010 – more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated in the United States.  After paper, this is the second largest amount of waste generated.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency,  “Food waste accounted for almost 14 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream, less than three percent of which was recovered and recycled in 2010. The rest —33 million tons— was thrown away, making food waste the single largest component of MSW (municipal solid waste) reaching landfills and incinerators.”

Some food waste is inevitable, but in a developed country where 33 million tons of food is wasted in a year, how can we still have hungry people?  The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming is looking at the food waste problem to see what’s wrong and what we as consumers can do to lessen our impact on the environment and to help US citizens find consistent access to healthier food.

Stay tuned – a website is underway and will be up in several months.  We will have more information for you shortly, and we will keep you updated on our progress and anything interesting we find here on the Guide to Good Food blog.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog.