|Photo: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Creative|
Whenever I present Food Foolish to a live audience, I always try to end on a hopeful note, saying that if we are smart and diligent, we can reduce food waste. And when we’re successful, the result will be good for everyone: less hunger, reduced carbon emissions, a stable agricultural footprint, more available fresh water, and greater food security for populations around the world. Nobody loses.
I usually see people nod in agreement until one evening at a local college, someone asked, “What about birds?”
“Birds?” I asked.
“What,” she explained, “would happen to birds that had come to depend on landfills if we stopped wasting food?”
It was a good question. In the United States and other developed countries, much of the food we waste shows up in landfills. Unfortunately, I had no answer at the time. Recently, I decided to try to figure it out: How dependent are birds on human food waste, and what happens if we reduce it—as so many individuals, corporations, and governments are now committed to doing?