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Transforming wasted food will require systemic and sustainable infrastructure innovations

February 01, 2022
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

Babbitt CW, Neff RA, Roe B, Siddiqui S, Chavis C, Trabold T.

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Currently, 40% of food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, leading to lost resources, economic costs, decreased food security, and the wasted food itself, which has immense climate and ecological impacts. However, unwanted food can be leveraged towards sustainability aims by, for example, diverting high-quality surplus to food-insecure communities, recycling carbon and nutrients into agricultural production, and converting food wastes into bioenergy. This transformation will require co-evolution of both physical infrastructure systems that produce, deliver, and manage food and waste and human infrastructure, from front-line workers to governance and institutions. This contribution will synthesize current knowledge and research in support of this transition, drawing from recent literature and two NSF-funded workshops on wasted food management in sustainable urban systems.