Kitchens Matter

World War I-Era Poster from the U.S. Government’s Waste Reduction Campaign (via Wikimedia Commons)

In the United States, food waste is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as commercial aviation[.]

Households account for 39 percent of food waste in the United States, more than restaurants, grocery stores or farms.

[O]ne-third of the food in this country goes unsold or uneaten — evidence of a culture that takes abundance for granted.

The following school year, Hilliard’s 14 elementary schools cut their trash pickups by 30 percent and recycling pickups by 50 percent, saving the district $22,000. They also diverted 100 tons of food, at least five school buses’ worth of waste, from the landfill.

Changing the behavior of millions of households may be a herculean task. But changing the behavior of one household can be done with just a single Nima. Or Cameryn. Or Riley.

Susan Shaun, “How Central Ohio Got People to Eat Their Leftovers” (The New York Times, Jan. 1, 2023)

A story with sobering statistics but a happy ending, from suburban central Ohio (about an hour south of where I grew up).

Kitchens matter.

Which is to say change and policy reforms are crucial, but food waste is one area where individual households and eating choices add up to more than the sum of their parts. If we change enough meals, purchases, and trash decisions, we can see a qualitative transformation in our supply and waste streams – new patterns and possibilities, rather than just a numerical shift.

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