Foodie Underground: Dealing with Food Waste


In the U.S. we waste about 25 percent of all food produced. In California alone, food is the largest source of waste, and overall U.S. food production accounts for nearly 300 million barrels of oil per year. You do the math: wasted food equals more dependence on fossil fuels, which means talking about cutting that dependence and taking a serious look at what and how much we stock our pantries.

When we talk about reducing our dependence on oil, thinking about how much we drive and cutting our consumption of single-use plastics are often the first on the item of tangible things we can do to make a difference. But food is a crucial component of our oil-based economy and talking about food waste is just as important as talking about driving more energy efficient vehicles; another link in the vastly interconnected web of ways that our everyday lives are connected to oil.

So how do we waste less? Eat consciously and seek out programs that are committed to providing local food and dealing with the issue of waste. Not Far From the Tree in Toronto is an excellent example of a community effort to harvest local, urban fruit that would otherwise go to waste. The residential fruit-picking program sends volunteers out to harvest the fruit from people who otherwise wouldn’t. One third of the bounty goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their work, and the final third is distributed – by pedal power of course! – to local community organizations who can put it to good use.

Dealing with the produced goods sector, Food Finders in Long Beach, California works to rescue food from local grocery stores, bakeries restaurants and markets and distributes it to missions and shelters, highlighting the important role that food plays in social justice. Urban Gleaners in Oregon has a similar purpose, and fighting hunger is in turn ensuring that our food resources are put to good use without going to waste.

Want to learn more about food waste and what you can do about it? Check out Wasted Food, an excellent blog maintained by author Jonathan Bloom. And here are six useful tips to help you re-think the way you shop for food.

At the end of the day, we foodies can have a significant impact on changing how we think about food consumption and its link to our own oil dependence: making better food and less of it is immediately a step in the right direction.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Image: lyzadanger

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.