Our society wastes food at every point in the food chain from farms and gardens to home kitchens, restaurants, supermarkets, food service companies, and large institutions like universities that feed thousands of people daily. Last December I was astonished to lean about the extent of food waste at the MD Food Recovery Summit organized by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Surplus food is the term used to describe unsold and unused food, like crops that don’t go to market because prices are too low, perishable items tossed into supermarket dumpsters, and groceries and restaurant meals bought and not eaten.
35% of all U.S. food went unsold or unused
23% of all surplus food is fruits and vegetables
Only 15% of Maryland’s 900K+ tons of food waste was recycled
Why it’s a problem:
Huge economic and environmental costs of producing surplus food
1 in 6 U.S. residents are food insecure. Surplus food can feed hungry people
Surplus food is the #1 landfill material (24% of landfill space)
Food waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can trap 28X as much heat/mass unit as CO2
The value of wasted food at the consumer level is $161 billion/year
How are Maryland gardeners adapting their gardens and green spaces to climate change? We posed this question to our colleagues in the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and several of them shared examples of everything from composting and food gardening to planting trees and native plants, installing rain gardens, and more.
Action on climate change is needed on a large scale, and our individual actions at home and in our communities all add up too. Check out our Story Map showcasing the variety of ways Marylanders are adapting their green spaces with climate change and sustainability in mind. Then take our quick poll at the end of the Story Map and let us know: Are you doing climate-resilient gardening?
Backyard composting isn’t an option for everyone. If you live in an apartment or condominium, worm composting or vermicomposting is a simple and inexpensive method you can use indoors to turn food scraps into compost for your houseplants or garden. Composting food scraps keeps organic waste out of landfills and reduces climate-warming gas emissions too.
In this video, Master Gardener Susan Levi-Goerlich demonstrates how to set up a basic vermicomposting system at home.