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Inside the Global Effort to Keep Perfectly Good Food Out of the Dump

The New York Times: “In Seoul, garbage cans automatically weigh how much food gets tossed in the trash. In London, grocers have stopped putting date labels on fruits and vegetables to reduce confusion about what is still edible. California now requires supermarkets to give away — not throw away — food that is unsold but fine to eat. Around the world, a broad array of efforts are being launched to tackle two pressing global problems: hunger and climate change. Food waste, when it rots in a landfill, produces methane gas, which quickly heats up the planet. But it’s a surprisingly tough problem to solve. Which is where Vue Vang, wrangler of excess, comes in. On a bright Monday morning recently, she pulled up behind a supermarket in Fresno, Calif., hopped off her truck and set out to rescue as much food as she could under the state’s new law — helping store managers comply with rules that many were still unaware of. Laid out for her was a shopping cart of about-to-expire hamburger buns and cookies. She knew there must be more. Within minutes, she had persuaded the staff members to give her several crates of milk marked “best by” the next day, as well as buttermilk and boxes of brussels sprouts, kale, cilantro, cut melons and corn.

In the United States, the single largest volume of material sent to landfills and incinerators comes from food waste. Worldwide, food waste accounts for 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, at least double that of emissions from aviation. According to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, that is enough food to feed more than a billion people. Amid the growing urgency to slow global warming, governments and entrepreneurs are coming up with different ways to waste less food. In the United States, one start-up makes it easier for people to buy misshapen produce that grocery stores don’t want, and another has developed an invisible, plant-based coating to make fruits last longer. A Kenyan entrepreneur has built solar-powered refrigerators to help farmers store produce longer…”

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