Food waste is a continuing problem in the U.S. In fact, World Food Day estimates that about 30-40% of the food supply in North America is wasted. In recognition of Earth Day later this month, the beef checkoff announced that it is challenging consumers to #WasteLess with its 30 Day Food Waste Challenge.
Although beef is one of the least wasted commodities produced in the U.S., with around 20% of edible product going to waste, the checkoff said consumers could help improve beef sustainability by 10% simply by cutting that waste in half.
The challenge encourages Americans to raise awareness and introduce simple changes to fight food waste in their daily routine. People who sign up for the Food Waste Challenge will be given shopping tips and food prep strategies to help reduce food waste in their households. They are also encouraged to post on social media using #WasteLess to encourage others to join the challenge, the announcement said.
The beef checkoff's 2015 "Sustainability Executive Summary" stated that food waste costs the average American family approximately $2,500 annually.
“Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful steps anyone can take to reduce their impact on the environment. Food that doesn't get eaten not only wastes the resources used to produce it but ends up in a solid waste landfill -- the number-one source of methane emissions in the U.S.,” the beef checkoff explained.
In 2016, the first year of the challenge, more than 500 people participated, most of which were graduates of the beef checkoff's Masters of Beef Advocacy program. This group of beef and dairy producers, along with chefs, teachers, doctors, dietitians and others in the beef community, focus on advocating for agriculture and environmental sustainability. This year, the checkoff hopes to reach beyond those program graduates and make a bigger impact on reducing food waste across the country.
“Not only are cattle producers reducing food waste in their homes; they are doing their part on the farm, too," the announcement stated. "Through better management of cattle nutrition, farmers are able to take byproduct common in their region -- such as almond hulls, beet tops and potato starch -- and feed that to cattle instead of letting it go to waste.”
The checkoff explained that beef is an ideal ingredient to help combat food waste because it is great for batch cooking, can be used in a variety of dishes and stores well both raw and cooked in the refrigerator and freezer when handled properly.
The beef industry is making great strides in minimizing its impact to the environment and hopes that this 30 Day Food Waste Challenge will encourage American's to join that effort, according to the announcement.