The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and RecyclingWorks Massachusetts hosted an informative and inspiring conference, Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People, that brought together entrepreneurs, policy makers, practitioners and enthusiasts. The goal of the two-day event was to expand upon the public dialogue on the EPA and the USDA’s national food waste reduction goal of 50% by 2030. Speakers from various backgrounds underlined innovative means of reducing food wastage, with a focus on the top two tiers of the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. Specifically, these levels deal with “source reduction” and “feeding hungry people.” It is, honestly, quite pathetic and horrendous that 40% of food in the US never ends up being eaten, and goes to waste. This is a severe environmental problem that more people need to be aware of. Awareness of the issue is growing on all fronts and action is being made, though, more needs to be done.
The conference really made me think about the opportunities opened up as a result of such a widespread issue and the room that is made for innovative solutions. After only having gotten a taste of the whirlpool of effects caused by food wastage in a research piece I wrote for an environmental studies class, I am now motivated to use the inspiration and implement the information from the conference at my college and begin a food waste campaign. In food recovery, as Tristram Stuart mentioned in a panel, “the solutions are delicious.”
As I sit on the train home, I reflect that the last two days have been eye-opening for me, and I foresee myself involved more and more in combatting food waste through creative and novel means, and sharing my ideas here. I began work this summer with Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, and will be writing articles there as well! Keep an eye open for initiatives in local areas, and work to reduce your own food wastage. Many attendees and speakers in the conference recycled this quote in an act of inspiration and support for one another: “If you’re a hammer, the world’s a nail.”