In Depth

Reducing Food Waste: 1 In 5 Acres Of Land In US Is Growing Garbage

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Do you like interesting facts? So do we!

Here are a few for you to chew on: there are about 920,000,000 acres of farmland in the US. That means about 40% of the land in our country is used for farming. Here’s what else that means: we’re using half of our farmland (460,000,000 acres) to grow garbage.

Wait, what?

One In Five Acres Of Land In the US Is Used To Grow Garbage 

In America, 50% of all the food grown on our farms (often in environmentally destructive ways) ends up in the trash can in our homes. After that, those billions of dollars worth of discarded food goes into landfills rather than to families in need or even into home composting systems. Yikes!

In our opinion, one of the reasons EVERYONE should grow some of their own food–at school, home, in community gardens, etc–is that doing so makes you appreciate where food comes from and all that goes into producing it. (This is what people mean when they say “our relationship with our food is broken”.)

More reasons to grow some of your own food? You can grow interesting and unusual varieties (especially heirlooms) that you're not likely to find at a grocery store.

More reasons to grow some of your own food? You can grow interesting and unusual varieties (especially heirlooms) that you’re not likely to find at a grocery store.

The experiential knowledge you get from growing food translates into less food going into the garbage. You sure as heck appreciate the berries or ears of corn you grew yourself more than the commodity product you bought at the supermarket grown by someone else. Plus, you’ll appreciate your store-bought food much more once you understand what was involved in producing it and bringing it all the way to your table.

That’s Edible? 

Another way to reduce food waste is taking full advantage of all the edible parts of the produce you buy or grow.

For instance, most people know that almonds and sunflower seeds are healthy, high protein foods (6 grams of protein, good fat & fiber, etc). What they might not know is they’re likely growing something just as healthy in their own garden: watermelon and squash seeds. Watermelon seeds have a whopping 10 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving, and most squash seeds have over 5 grams protein per serving. Both seeds are also packed full of healthy fats, complex carbs, and fiber (an essential prebiotic).

In some areas of the world, they actually grow watermelons primarily for their seeds, not the fruit!

Mmm! Fresh wok-roasted, salted watermelon seeds.

Mmm! Fresh wok-roasted, salted watermelon seeds.

Here’s how we like to make our watermelon seeds.

While most people know you can eat the skin and flesh of pumpkins, they don’t necessarily know that watermelon rinds can be made into healthy edible probiotic foods, such as lacto-fermented watermelon rind pickles.

These are just a couple of many examples showing how you can use parts of your produce that would normally be discarded or composted.

3 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Food Waste

Want to reduce the amount of food (and money) you waste? Here are three great ways you can reduce your food waste: 

  1. Grow some of your own food AND compost your food scraps to grow more food (creating a closed loop).
  2. Use all edible parts of your produce.
  3. If you have canned goods or other non-perishable foods that haven’t expired but you won’t use before their expiration date, donate them to local food banks/shelters asap.

If we truly want to “feed the world” or even our own citizens, a big part of accomplishing that task is reducing the food we waste so that 50% of the farmland we’re currently using is growing actual food, not trash. 


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