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Food Waste in the United States

From The Pachamama Alliance

Food waste and food distribution is a huge problem in the United States.  Collectively, we throw away 40% of the food we produce.  Meanwhile, 50 million Americans don't have enough food to eat. Fortunately, individuals like Dana Frasz, founder of a food recovery organization in Oakland, California called Food Shift, are doing something about food waste in the U.S.

Inspired by a journey she took to the heart of the Amazon rainforest through an organization called The Pachamama Alliance, Frasz felt the need to do something about the food distribution issues she saw in her local community.

Food waste, Frasz believes, is a result of our disconnection from nature. It is easy for us to forget that food is a gift from the Earth that requires precious resources like water, labor, energy and time to produce.

This disconnect causes us to take food for granted, making us more likely to waste it, costing us $165 billion a year and 25% of the freshwater we use.

How ‘Food Recovery’ Programs are Helping End the Problem of Food Waste

The benefits of food recovery organizations like Food Shift is that they can expand their services beyond the limits conventional volunteer-based help so many food banks must operate under. For Frasz, being able to pay employees, rather than relying on volunteers, ensures she can count on the labor required to get the food recovery work done.

Food recovery organizations like Food Shift are also able to direct more resources toward redistributing expired-yet-perfectly-good food to food banks, churches, shelters and soup kitchens. And, unlike food banks, food rescue organizations deal with perishable foods.

Many food recovery organizations also have educational programs to raise awareness so food waste is curbed at its source inside and outside household.

By being more mindful of how we are connected to the Earth and people all over the world through the food we eat, we are more likely to appreciate food for its true value and be less likely to waste it.

We all can step up to reduce food waste in our own households. Visit Food Shift for tips on how to reduce your food waste. If you’re interested in doing more, see if food recovery program exists in your area.

And to learn more about earth connection, environmental sustainability, and changing the larger systems and structures that perpetuate problems like food waste, check out The Pachamama Alliance and their Up to Us educational programs.


The Pachamama Alliance’s mission is to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.  To learn more, click here.

The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 10: Green Innovations

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