Food waste in America makes up 21% of landfills (EPA, 2013), the highest of all the categories including paper and plastics. The Food Recovery Hierarchy graph shows the ideal uses to prevent food entering our landfills (obviously it doesn’t filter enough waste out). So we want to add a step in the hierarchy graph, repurposing. Repurpose is to use or convert for use in another format or product. Just like we do with newspapers, old t-shirts, coffee cans and many other products. Once we’ve used them for as long as we can, using them to their fullest potential. With food, once we see a sign of spoilage we assume contamination and throw it away, discarding it into the trash or compost pale. Instead of spending a few minutes trimming away the spoilage of tomatoes and cooking it through to ensure killing off any remaining bacteria (although very unlikely after the trimming process). And creating a great tomato sauce made from scratch without added HFCS or other preservatives.
If this repurposing of food lowered the food waste from 21% to 9% or even 10% it would be down with the categories such as metals, wood and yard waste both categories whose products are used for repurposing.
Some prepared foods such a banquet dishes are difficult to repurpose but they can easily divided into individual portions and frozen as ready to eat meals. One thing that Quinces Preserved is doing to reduce waste through repurposing, is taking fresh produce that is unmarketable and transforming it into tasty and flavorful products such as jams, sauces and butters.
Graphic Source: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/ accessed on March 20th.