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A version of this article was first published on the Whole Foods Magazine blog.
Growing up, my mom would tell me to eat everything on my plate before leaving the dinner table. “Don’t let all of that goodness go to waste,” she’d say like clockwork. “Someone had to grow it.” She taught me to value the work it took farmers to put food on my plate, and it made me curious: Was anything wasted before it reached me? The answer led to a lifelong passion for what gets lost from tree to shelf.
Over 2.8 trillion pounds of food goes to waste each year, making it the number one problem we can solve to immediately stop climate change (1, 2). While most public awareness for food waste starts around the time your groceries reach the fridge, almost half of the food we don’t eat is wasted before it ever reaches a store shelf.