Cut Down on Food Waste- and Help Feed the World- Former Ag Secretary Dan Glickman at REBELationTue, 19 May 2015 04:27:41 CDT
Dealing with food waste- both in the US as well as on a global basis was the focus of comments made by the former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman at the 2015 Alltech REBELation Conference being held this week in Lexington, Ky. Three thousand participants have converged on what some call the horse capitol of the world to hear cutting edge ideas in the world of animal nutrition, human nutrition, the digital world as it relates to business and even in the arena of brewing craft beer.
The Alltech Company was founded by Dr. Pearse Lyons when he traveled from Ireland to Kentucky in 1980 and established a tiny company that was designed to offer different solutions to the world of animal agriculture when it came to nutritional challenges of maximum production in a natural way.
The 2015 International Conference is being called REBELation- and has a total of 11 individual tracks along with three general sessions over the three days. In addition, three of the tracks were joined together on Monday afternoon to hear from former Ag Secretary and Kansas Congressman Dan Glickman, who talked about the challenge of cutting down on the thirty to forty percent of the food produced that is wasted in a variety of ways.
Glickman told the audience that while there is a tremendous amount of food waste in third world countries- about sixty percent of the total food waste occurs in Europe and the United States. A lof of the food wasted in the US is tossed out because of the "Sell by date" that is on packaging of a wide variety products- including fresh fruits and vegetables. In many cases, the former Ag Secretary says the reason for that date is for cosmetic reasons- and it is not that there is a safety issue on the dated food products.
One way to address this problem, according to Glickman, is to educate the public and food companies about "Good Samaritan" laws that are found at both the federal level as well as in many states. These laws allow a company or even individual producer to donate products to food banks or other similar operations- and be protected from liability regarding food safety. These laws, in many cases, have been on the books for a number of years- but most people and organizations are unaware of them. Glickman contends that educating people about this protection could open up a lot of food aid and lower the waste levels in the US.
Glickman says that current levels of food waste are running from thirty to forty percent- depending on the commodity- in the US. He contends that lowering that even to twenty to thirty percent would open up a lot of food flowing to the Food Bank and Pantry outlets in the US- alleviating some of the cronic hunger problem seen in the US.
Internationlly, the US can offer a helping hand in the ag research arena- working on storage solutions and ways to help maintain the quality and safety of the food in transportation as well as in storage. Our plant breeders are also working on plants that produce a crop that has better shelf life and helps ease the waste of many crops that simply rot before they can get to their intended end user.
During the Q&A portion of his presenation at the REBELation conference, Glickman made an interesting statement about the largest player in the US food industry in the United States- Walmart. He told the audience that if you want to know about what the general population is thinking when it comes to food issues- Walmart is a good resource to tap as they know what the consumer is thinking and they are paying attention to what the consumer is demanding in their food shopping experience.
Farm Director Ron Hays sat down and talked to the Secretary after his presentation to the Alltech audience- and you can hear the conversation they had on domestic and international food waste, Ag Research in the food waste arena and even some give and take on the importance of Walmart in today's food dialogue between the industry and the consumer.
Click on the LISTEN BAR to hear the conversation.
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