One-third of the world’s food goes to waste every year.

In the U.S., about 40 percent of our food gets thrown out.

This happens at the farm, at the grocery store and in our homes.

My neighbor works at a supermarket in town and he told me that they used to give away expired produce, bakery goods and even roasted chickens and prepared meals that were fine to eat. I used to go to that store after 10pm because they would sell many items at half price.

No more. Now all of that goes into the trash. Why? Fears of a lawsuit.

Most people know that with things like bread, you can take “expired” items, refrigerate or freeze it and it will last for weeks.  Milk stored properly lasts for days past the magic expiration date.  Storage is really the key factor.

It seems a shame that imperfectly edible food goes to waste. We know people have it worse overall in other countries, but that there are also people in need of food in our own country.

According to a United Nations report released today, each year a third of all food for human consumption is wasted — accounting for a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions that’s surpassed only by the total emissions produced by China and the United States.

Wasted food’ also leaves a carbon footprint. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Association (FAO), annually that is equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of CO2. From Reuters, in the industrialized world, much of the waste comes from consumers buying too much and throwing away what they do not eat. In developing countries, it is mainly the result of inefficient farming and a lack of proper storage facilities.

It suggested improving communication between producers and consumers to manage the supply chain more efficiently, as well as investing more in harvesting, cooling and packaging methods.

It also said consumers in the developed world should be encouraged to serve smaller portions and make more use of leftovers. Businesses should give surplus food to charities, and develop alternatives to dumping organic waste in landfill.

I heard a story on NPR about the former president of Trader Joe’s, Doug Rauch, who wants to repurpose the edible produce slightly past its sell-by date that ends up in the trash. He plans to open a new market in 2014 that will prepare and repackage that type of  food at deeply discounted prices. The project is called the Daily Table.

Rauch calls it “a hybrid between a grocery store and a restaurant” because the store will prep and cook the food for what he calls “speed-scratch cooking” and then sell it at prices that compete with fast food.

Now, this Daily Table plan is a business – not a food bank or soup kitchen for the unemployed or homeless. It’s an interesting idea and I’m glad to see food not going to waste. I wish more of it could get to people who still won’t be able to afford it, even at “deeply-discounted prices.”

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