US Ranks Low in Food Sustainability Index

In this year's Food Sustainability Index, the US ranked 21st out of 35 countries. France and Japan ranked first and second, respectively. Countries were evaluated based on various criteria, including food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutritional challenges (such as hunger and obesity).

France's number one spot makes sense, given the country's recent efforts to cut back on food waste. "In 2016, France became the first country to require supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities," says One Green Planet. Japan has also taken major steps towards sustainability, along with Germany, Spain, and Sweden, which ranked in the top five.

Unfortunately (and perhaps unsurprisingly), the US ranked much lower due to overconsumption of meat, sugar, and saturated fats. The "Standard American Diet" is unhealthy not only for Americans themselves, but for environmental sustainability. The US also ranks low due to poor management of soil and agriculture.

According to research, the average American citizen throws out 20 pounds of food per month, and food makes up 18% of the material handled by our waste management system. Methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas, is released when this food breaks down in landfills.

On top of this, our food system, which is so heavily centered on mass consumption of meat and other animal products, is highly unsustainable. 

"To produce three calories of beef, it takes 100 calories of grain – considering this, it’s no wonder a majority of the grain in the U.S. is fed to livestock instead of people. The reality is, our current food system that focuses on factory farmed meat and dairy is pushing the planet to its absolute limit and as it stands, we are running out of land and water to produce animal products – while causing mass-scale deforestation as well as air and water pollution in the process. With the animal agriculture industry being responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined, we need to start taking a look at our food choices and act now to save the planet. By simply choosing more plant-based foods, you can dramatically reduce your personal footprint on the environment." (One Green Planet)

What can you do?

To learn how to cut down on your personal food waste, check out this article from One Green Planet. 

Ditching animal products in favor of plant foods minimizes environmental impact. Learn more about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture at Cowspiracy.com and visit Mercy for Animals for resources, recipes, and more.

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