KUNC

         

Tossed Out

The livestock sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent, according to the United Nations. (File: Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media)
The livestock sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent, according to the United Nations. (File: Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media)

President Obama announced at the United Nations Climate Summit Tuesday that part of the U.S. action plan on climate change will focus on the U.S. agriculture industry.

If current population trends continue, farmers around the world will have to feed another 2 billion mouths in the next few decades. At the same time, climate change threatens crop yields, meaning there might be less food to fill the growing population.

It raises the question: How can farmers farm smarter?

To help answer this question, the United States signed on as a founding member of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, a group of governments, businesses and farm organizations that will share information about best-practices for farming in a world with a shifting climate.

Abby Wendle is Harvest's new reporter. She's based at Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Ill.
Abby Wendle is Harvest's new reporter. She's based at Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Ill.

A dozen college students and I stand at the edge of a corn field on Allison Farm, the organic research and demonstration farm operated by Western Illinois University (WIU). Dr. Joel Gruver, director of the WIU Organic Research Program and a professor at the university, takes a break from talking about radishes and invites us to walk into the rows of corn.

“If you’ve never been, you need to go!” he eggs us on.

I squish through mud, duck a little and emerge under a canopy of bright green and pale yellow. Giggles bounce around the field as the students file in behind me. I snap photos of ponytails and hoodies as they bob between stalks.

Then I turn my attention to the corn.

Dates that show when food is “best by” don’t show when a food product is safe to eat. (Courtesy NET News)
Dates that show when food is “best by” don’t show when a food product is safe to eat. (Courtesy NET News)

We’ve all done it at the grocery store: reached to the back of the display for the milk, or juice or salad with the date furthest away. But that “best if used buy” or “sell by” date on your jug of milk? That’s not an expiration date.   

In reality, manufacturers choose the date to encourage consumers to eat or drink the product at its peak quality. Then, ideally, they will enjoy it at its freshest and return to buy it again.

With 40 percent of the U.S. food supply never actually making it to a mouth, according to the environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council, some food policy experts are pointing to these misleading date labels as a major culprit contributing to so much food waste.

Pages