Leanpath Weighs Waste

A little Oregon company helps institutions monitor food waste

6 min read
Leanpath Weighs Waste
Photo: Dan Saelinger; Stylist: Dominique Baynes; Food Stylist: Carol Ladd

About a third of the food produced for human consumption never gets eaten. That’s a lot wasted—some 1.3 billion metric tons worldwide each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [PDF]. If you could magically eliminate this prodigious loss, you could readily feed the 3 billion or so more people the U.N. expects to be living on the planet when the population peaks.

It seems like a no-brainer. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. But where to start? In developing countries, inefficient harvesting, unrefrigerated storage, and frequent holdups in transportation and distribution leave food rotting in fields and warehouses and on the backs of trucks. In developed countries, efficient harvesting, processing, and distribution systems that include refrigerated warehouses and trucks mean that most food waste can’t be blamed on spoilage, although some farmers choose to leave crops in the field when they think market prices are too low. It’s when food gets into the store, restaurant, or kitchen that the real problems happen—leading to some 222 million metric tons’ worth of food being thrown out each year.

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