According to the USDA, 40 percent of America’s food goes to waste. That’s 133 billion pounds of food annually, overloading landfills and increasing our carbon footprint. Food waste occurs in every phase of the food supply chain from agricultural production and post-harvest handling and storage, to processing, distribution and the consumer.
In an effort to increase awareness of food waste, the College offered several student seminars, including “Close to Home: Connecticut-Based Efforts to Reduce Food Waste”; “Sustainable Urbanization: The Future of Food”; “Getting Real About Food Waste: the British Perspective”, and the “Tasty Waste Lunch,” where UConn’s Dining Services served a meal produced from safe and nutritious food that would have otherwise been discarded. The Tasty Waste Lunch was well attended by more than 1200 students.
As a culminating event, the UConn Science Salon presented “Throwing It All Away: America’s Food Waste Epidemic,” on April 6 at the Spotlight Theatres in Hartford. The event was open to the public and featured several panelists including Interim Dean Cameron Faustman; Chelsea Connery, doctoral student in educational policy in the Neag School of Education; and John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer for United Technologies Corporation.
“Those of us from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources were thrilled to be involved with the food waste Science Salon,” said Faustman. “The issue of food waste is relevant to some degree in every one of our departments. The Science Salon continues our leadership position with this issue, which started with our efforts last fall.”
“We have to think differently about how we’re going to approach food to feed the growing planet,” says Mandyck. “The paradigm shift that we need to realize is that at this very moment, I can point to a hidden source of food that can feed four billion more people, saves enough carbon to remove every car off of every road every year and saves enough water to fill the entire water needs of the continent of Africa every year. And it’s hidden in plain sight— it’s the food we lose or throw away.”
Funded by UConn and the UConn Foundation, the Science Salon is a cross-departmental initiative designed to highlight research efforts at UConn. “We want to bring the wonderful research being done at the University out to local community members and the general public,” says Pam Chudzik the College’s director of alumni relations. “We invite anyone to attend these presentations for current information with university faculty and industry experts.”
The next Science Salon, “Left Brain/Right Brain: Business and Creativity,” will be held in Stamford on June 8. The 2018 series will begin in the fall. For more information, go to http://sciencesalon.uconn.edu.
A group of CAHNR students recently created a video that highlights the impacts of food waste and ways to reduce waste: