Episode 4: The Big Problem of Food Waste

The US wastes a shocking amount of food, roughly 40 percent of the food it produces, much of it perfectly edible and nutritious. Food is lost or wasted for a variety of reasons, from the farm to the store to the restaurant to our very own home kitchens, where each household, maybe even yours, is throwing away around 21 percent of the food it buys.

In this episode, we talk to experts about why food waste is a problem, touch on how some grocery stores, restaurants and food companies are working to fix the problem, and dig into some of the cultural reasons why our society treats food as disposable. Finally, we cover how you can reduce your own kitchen waste, getting advice from chefs for how to make changes in how you shop, cook and eat that will make a meaningful difference environmentally and economically.

Available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Download the Transcript

"Waste, it’s part of the ideology of being in the US. It's just so second nature to throw things out, it's like we've lost a lot of culture around preserving or anything like that. It's just, I can get whatever I want at any moment. And that's the basis of our food culture."

Alicia Kennedy

Food writer

Episode Guests

Dana Gunders

Dana is the Executive Director of ReFED, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending food loss and waste across the US food system by advancing data-driven solutions. 

Yvette Cabrera

Yvette is the director of the food waste, healthy people and thriving communities program at the Natural Resources Defense Council

Ryan Nebeker

Ryan is the policy and research analyst for FoodPrint. He holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food and the Environment from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Katherine Sacks

Katherine is the Digital Content Manager at FoodPrint, with a career as a writer, editor and recipe developer as well as food stylist.

Anna Hammond

Anna is the Founder and CEO of Matriark Foods, a company that works with farmers, aggregators and food service providers to upcycle vegetable scraps into healthy, low-sodium multi-use bases for vegetable-forward meals. 

Alicia Kennedy

Alicia is a food and culture writer who has a widely read Substack newsletter called “From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy.” She is at work on a book about ethical eating.

Mary Cleaver

Mary is one of the country’s foremost authorities on sustainable food and local sourcing, was the founder and owner of The Cleaver Co. and The Green Table in New York City and is now raising pastured poultry and eggs at Green Table Farms, in Washington County, New York.

Tim Ma

Chef Tim Ma is most recently a chef/owner of Lucky Danger, in Washington D.C. He has helmed many fan favorites there including Prather’s on the Alley and Kyirisan. He is the co-founder of Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.

Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino

Vincent and Louis co-founded mak-‘amham, an organization and restaurant focused on reviving and strengthening traditional Ohlone foods and sharing them back with their communities and educating the public of Ohlone culture through cuisine.

Dominic Palumbo

Dom runs Moon in the Pond Farm, a small, diverse, sustainable, permaculture farm dedicated to education. It’s located in Sheffield, Massachusetts and sells goods both on-farm as well as at farmers’ markets and to restaurants.

Ellin Rothstein

Ellin is a former actor, current woodworker and lifelong consumer of food. Above all, she has always been concerned about the environment and the myriad ways in which we can and must stop destroying it.

Learn More About Food Waste

Top photo by Joaquin Corbalan/Adobe Stock.