Examining Food Loss and Waste–Research Findings

CAST EVP Kent Schescke (upper left) and Dr. Zhengxia Dou (upper right)
Food Loss and Waste is the fourth paper issued in the CAST series on The Need for Agricultural Innovation to Sustainably Feed the World by 2050. After an introduction by CAST EVP Kent Schescke, Task Force Chair Dr. Zhengxia Dou (University of Pennsylvania) presented highlights and key findings of the paper in Washington, D.C., to Senate staffers in a morning briefing and to House staffers at a Lunch-n-Learn noon seminar.   
Click here for the press release and access to the full publication. The CAST website includes links to this paper and many other CAST publications.  
The Food Loss and Waste (FLW) publication includes four sections:  
Dirk Drost, CAST Board of Directors, with Dou and Schescke
(1) The magnitude of the problem is described using four major data sources at the national level, and the different scope and boundaries of these data are compared. There follows a discussion of the three fundamental resources for primary food production–land, water, and fertilizer–that are embedded in the lost and wasted food, plus other resource costs.  
(2) The authors discuss why FLW occurs, drawing attention to the many issues of the FLW problem regarding consumer behavior and the interacting influence of psychological, social, cultural, and economic factors. They also describe major actions that are being taken across the nation to decrease FLW.  
(3) A hard look at existing data on the quantity of food waste prevention, recovery, and recycling is taken by compiling all major sources of data that could be located, providing a reality check on how well the country is performing on lessening FLW.  
(4) The authors present a critical analysis concerning three key issues: How can the United States work toward the 50% reduction goal by 2030 knowingly and confidently? What technological innovations may be game changers? What other approaches could be explored to influence consumer food behavior for the better?

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