In recognition of Earth Day on April 22, the Beef Checkoff is challenging consumers to #WasteLess with our 30 Day Food Waste Challenge. Although beef is one of the least wasted commodities produced in the U.S., at around 20 percent of edible product going to waste, consumers could help improve beef sustainability by 10 percent simply cutting that waste in half. The challenge encourages Americans to raise awareness and introduce simple changes to fight food waste in their daily routine. People who sign up for the Food Waste Challenge will be given shopping tips and food prep strategies to help reduce food waste in their households. They are also encouraged to post on social media using #WasteLess to encourage others to join the challenge.
Food waste is a continuing problem in the U.S. According to World Food Day, 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in North America is wasted. Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful steps anyone can take to reduce their impact on the environment. Food that doesn't get eaten not only wastes the resources used to produce it, but ends up in a solid waste landfill, the number one source of methane emissions in the U.S. Additionally, the beef checkoff's 2015 Sustainability Executive Summary states that food waste costs the average American family approximately $2,500 annually.
In 2016, the challenge's first year, more than 500 people participated. Most participants were graduates of the beef checkoff's Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program. This group of beef and dairy producers, along with chefs, teachers, doctors, dietitians and others in the beef community is leading the way in advocating for agriculture and environmental sustainability. This year's challenge aims to reach beyond MBA graduates and make a bigger impact on reducing food waste across the country.
Not only are cattle producers reducing food waste in their homes, they are doing their part on the farm too. Through better management of cattle nutrition, farmers are able to take byproduct common in their region, such as almond hulls, beet tops and potato starch, and feed that to cattle instead of letting it go to waste.
Beef is an ideal ingredient to help combat food waste because it is great for batch cooking, can be used in a variety of dishes, and stores well both raw and cooked in the refrigerator and freezer when handled properly. The beef industry is making great strides in minimizing its impact to the environment and hopes that this 30-Day Food Waste Challenge will encourage American's to join that effort.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.