With the holidays upon us and food as a big part of holiday traditions, let’s talk about food waste. It is important to remember that food is a valuable resource, which is why we turn to the food hierarchy for guidance on best use.

The food hierarchy is helpful to break down all the different ways food can be managed and to identify which options are better than others, from a social, economic, and environmental perspective. Let’s break it down layer by layer.

The food hierarchy pyramid.

The food hierarchy includes:

  • Source reduction: Reduce the amount of surplus food produced.
  • Feed people: Eat it, and share your extra food with others.
  • Feed animals: Feed food scraps to farm animals.
  • Industrial uses: Recover energy with food scraps and convert waste oils to fuel. 
  • Compost: Add to your garden for a nutrient boost. 
  • Landfill: Waste it. 

To delve deeper into each layer of the hierarchy, visit www.icgov.org/lovefood.  

Why are we talking about food waste?

When food is wasted, it wastes all the resources that went into growing, manufacturing, distributing, and transporting that food, too. On a local level, landfilled food waste produces methane, contributing to climate change. One of the best things each of us can do to take climate action is to reduce food waste.

This content is brought to you by Love Food, Fight Waste, a collaboration between Table to Table and the City of Iowa City. Questions? Reach out to Jane Wilch, City of Iowa City Recycling Coordinator, at 319-887-6110 or jwilch@iowa-city.org, or Nicki Ross, Table to Table Executive Director, at 319-337-3400 or nicki@table2table.org.

Date of publication

Tuesday, December 06, 2022