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Low Waste Foods

According to The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), one-third of all produced food is wasted worldwide [2]. Food waste at this capacity causes disruptions in many different areas, including environmental, social, and economic.  

One challenge in itself is defining ‘food waste’. Generally, any food that was “intended to be used to feed humans and not ultimately sold for human consumption by the food business”, and is not used- can be considered food waste [1].

Food waste can be reduced through several management strategies that can be enforced through policies such as redistribution for humans and animals, anaerobic digestion, composting, and thermal treatment.


One option is food waste can be used to feed people and/or animals [1]. In the case of feeding people, food businesses can donate edible food to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc. For example, a bakery has day-old muffins that they do not want to sell to customers but are still edible. That unsellable, yet edible product can be donated which would prevent waste. Regarding animals, this is “best for foods that are not fit for human consumption” [1]. Food must be considered on an individual basis and must still be edible for animals.

Anaerobic digestion

In this option, bacteria break down food waste as part of a natural process. This can be used with all waste except  “animal by-products and packaged waste” [1]. Anaerobic digestion will produce ‘biogas’, which is mainly made of methane.


The food waste that can be composted is the same as what can be used for anaerobic digestion [1]. Composting can be done on large scales and more minor scales like one’s home. The process turns food waste into great soil that can be used to grow more food making it very sustainable.


Thermal Treatment

This management strategy can be applied to all food waste [1]. The downside is that a lot of energy is needed to treat food. This treatment is not ideal, as it has fewer benefits than other methods.


Reducing food waste at home


National policy changes are made to manage large quantities of food waste, but there are still methods to reduce one’s footprint daily. “Reduce, reuse and recycle can be applied to food waste and a general rule” [3].


● Reduce: unnecessary products and avoid buying overly packaged products.

● Reuse: find ways to repurpose food scraps such as using bones from meat for broth.

● Recycle: compost when possible.


Small steps such as planning out meals in advance and preserving foods (canning, pickling, etc.) can make a big difference in the food waste of just one home. Otherwise, the other methods listed above can reduce food waste if individuals practice them on a daily basis.




1. Garcia-Garcia, G., Woolley, E., Rahimifard, S., Colwill, J., White, R., & Needham, L. (2016, October 25). A Methodology for Sustainable Management of Food Waste - Waste and Biomass Valorization. Retrieved from

2. Ishangulyyev, R., Kim, S., & Lee, S. H. (2019, July 29). Understanding Food Loss and Waste-Why Are We Losing and Wasting Food? Retrieved from

3. Snyder, C. (2021, May 31). What Is Zero-Waste Cooking, and How Do You Do It? Retrieved from





Author: Sophie Gangi

Editor: Kayjah Taylor

Health Scientist: Bhagya Arikala


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