Tossed Out

  • About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the U.S. in 2012, compared to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper. (Pat Aylward/NET News)

    Tossed Out, part 1: As more than a third of the U.S. food supply is squandered, nearly one in seven American househoulds has trouble finding enough to eat. Millions of pounds of edible food rots in landfills and releases toxic greenhouse gases.

  • On-farm and post-harvest loss accounts for about 40 percent of food waste in the developing world, according to the U.N. But it is credited with relatively small levels of waste in most industrialized countries. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

    Tossed Out, part 2: In the developing world as much as 40 percent of the food supply never makes it from farmers to consumers, according to some estimates. But here in the U.S., planning, technology and infrastructure help minimize waste on the farm, pushing almost everything grown out to consumers.

  • Todd Scherbing, Smithfield Foods’ senior director of rendering, holds a tray of pituitary glands that are cut from hogs on the line in the Farmland Foods plant in Milan, Mo. Pituitary glands are used to make insulin. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

    Tossed Out, part 3: Americans eat only about half of the meat produced by farm animals. But most of the rest of the animal is made into every day products through rendering - what some call the original recycling process.

  • Nearly one-third of the more than 400 million pounds of food available at grocery stores and restaurants is never eaten. (Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

    Tossed Out, part 4: With food retail stores catering to consumers’ demand for immaculate food around the clock, food waste is piling up in the store and at home.

  • Gloria Restrepo, a teacher’s assistant at Harris Bilingual Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo., helps students choose their lunch. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

    Tossed Out, part 5: In many communities, the local school district is the largest food provider. But trying to feed healthy food to some of the pickiest eaters can result in mountains of wasted food.

Welcome to Harvest Public Media

The sheep herd in the U.S. is declining, but there has been a wool resurgence in local, niche markets. Some sheep ranchers are taking advantage.

For years, Latino immigrants have filled some of the least-glamorous, most physically taxing jobs in farming. The children of those immigrants may be uniquely qualified to lead the future of the Midwest’s agricultural economy, if they decide to embark on an ag career.

Immigration is helping to re-shape what agriculture looks like in the Midwest. Farming is already more ethnically diverse than it was even a decade ago and immigrants of all stripes are working the land.

U.S. farmers are bringing in what’s expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. But all that productivity has a big financial downside: plunging prices that have many Midwest farmers hoping to merely break-even on this year’s crop.

Farmers today with modern combines can harvest tens of thousands of bushels of corn in an hour. Corn husking competitions preserve an older way to harvest - by hand.

Can you jump higher than a mule? Probably not.

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

Proponents of Missouri’s so-called "ag-gag" law say it allows authorities to deal with suspected animal cruelty quickly. But PETA and other animal advocates are fighting to overturn such laws, saying that they chill whistleblowing activities.

Though genetically-modified varieties are prohibited in organic production under USDA rules, there are no regulations in place to protect farmers against accidental contamination from the pollen of GM corn.

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