Between 30% and 40% of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, according to the USDA. That has “far-reaching impacts on society” as wholesome food that could be used to feed people in need goes to the landfill instead. Not to mention that throughout the supply chain resources such as land, water, labor, and energy are used for tons upon tons of food that ends up as garbage, the USDA points out.
To help address this issue, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a $633,551 grant to three Virginia Tech faculty members to fund a four-year research project on the economics of food loss and waste, the university reported.
“This grant will allow the team to fully investigate the impact of agricultural policies on farm decision-making that will address these important and crucial issues of waste,” Ford Ramsey, a co-principal investigator and an assistant professor in agribusiness, said in the Virginia Tech post.
The researchers’ long-term goal for this project is to develop methods for measuring on-farm food loss and waste and to construct a nationwide measure for vegetables. Currently, vegetable data is “missing” from the existing U.S. measures of loss and waste along the farm-to-fork food supply chain, that post also noted.
“Reducing food loss and waste may have implications for both the environmental impact of agriculture and for food prices,” said John Bovay, an assistant professor of food and health economics at Virginia Tech and principal investigator for the USDA-funded project. “The environmental costs are mostly generated by inputs such as fertilizer, water, pesticides and fuel to produce, market, and purchase food that eventually goes uneaten.”
This grant money comes as the USDA and EPA are facing an eight-year countdown. In 2015, the two agencies set a goal to cut the nation’s food waste in half by 2030.
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