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The Problem of Supersizing

July 8, 2013

foodwasteBy now we’re all familiar with the problem of growing portion sizes in the American diet. As Rachel Smith summarizes on the CNN’s Going Green blog this week, “Over the past two decades, food waste and obesity have nearly doubled at equal rates. The surface area of the average dinner plate expanded by 36 percent between 1960 and 2007. Parallel to increased portion sizes, between 1987 and 2010, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes almost tripled to 20.9 million.”

There is also the problem of waste generated by excess food production. As we’ve previously noted (see also here), an estimated half of all food produced in the world is wasted. Indeed, according to one source, the industrialized countries waste 222 million tons of food per year, almost as much as is produced in all of Sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons per year). This waste has a considerable environmental impact, ranging from increased water consumption to excess waste in landfills.


To combat this, Rachel Smith’s organization, Halfsies, suggests that reducing consumption—at least in the global north—is the key to addressing the ecological and food challenges we face. She writes,

“Opportunities pop up everyday that provide the chance to be responsible consumers. From going “halfsies” with your portions to starting up your own personal compost — the action needed to spur behavior change and reverse our global food waste epidemic is less challenging than you might think.

“Our personal decisions matter. The earth cannot continue to withstand our excesses and neither can our waistlines. Practicing the “waste not” wisdom consistently over time will have a profound generational and global impact.”

Smith is cofounder of Halfsies, an initiative promoting smaller serving sizes and reduced food waste in restaurants. Read more about it at the Halfsies website.



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