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Reducing Food Waste: A Circular Solution for a Sustainable Future

Join us in the fight against food waste and towards a greener tomorrow.

Welcome to our webpage dedicated to addressing the waste problem in our food system. As scientists and concerned citizens, we recognize that the way we produce, consume, and waste food is having a serious impact on our planet. In fact, as much as one-third of all food produced is either lost before it reaches a store or wasted before it reaches consumers' plates. This not only affects the environment, but also has social and economic consequences.

 

Join us as we explore the various impacts of food waste on our environment, society, and economy, and work towards implementing solutions to address this pressing issue. Together, we can create a more sustainable future for our planet and future generations to come.

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Did you know that in the United States alone, 40-50% of all food is thrown away, with an estimated annual cost of about US $750 billion every year (FAO, 2019)? Not only does this waste take up to 21% of America's landfill volume, it also contributes 9% to the total US greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, given that agriculture utilizes 70% of the world's freshwater resources, food waste also represents a significant loss of precious water resources.

As a solution, we believe in transitioning from a linear economy based on the “take-make-consume-dispose” model toward a circular economy, where resources are used and re-used in a closed loop as long as possible. This circular economy model aims to maintain the value of resources in the system, while products are re-claimed to extract as much value as possible before safely returning them to the biosphere.

Circular Ag-food economy model
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Communication & Public Engagement

Explore our recorded presentation, "Toward a Circular Economy: From Agricultural Waste to Sustainable Plant Production through Microbe-Mediated Processes." This presentation, initially shared at the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)  2022 International Annual Meeting in Baltimore, is now a part of the educational resources on Lab to Farm. The discourse elucidates the potential of utilizing microbes to transform agricultural waste into valuable resources, aiding sustainable plant production. Our project underscores practical and easily deployable mitigation strategies that amalgamate the management of soil carbon dynamics, foster beneficial microbiota, and offer alternative disposal routes for agricultural waste. The focus is on the use of Biochar and Bokashi amendments, demonstrating their effectiveness in enhancing soil health and citrus nursery tree production in both greenhouse and field settings. The findings presented herein aren't mere futuristic aspirations but tangible actions contributing to a circular economy, where the nutrients from organic wastes are recycled into high-value agricultural products. This initiative stands as a testament to reducing agriculture's environmental footprint while augmenting soil health and crop fitness, embodying the true essence of sustainable food production and waste management. Dive into this resource to uncover the intertwined narratives of microbes, agricultural waste reutilization, and sustainable plant growth as we unravel a pragmatic approach towards a more eco-conscious and productive agricultural paradigm.

A Wellspring of Waste with Garden Futurist Deborah Pagliaccia

Delve into our podcast episode, "A Wellspring of Waste with Deborah Pagliaccia," now featured as an educational resource on Lab to Farm. This episode unveils a distinctive approach toward addressing some of the most pressing environmental challenges faced by industrial agriculture while spotlighting accessible techniques for today's gardeners. Hosted by Garden Futurist co-producers Sarah Beck and Adriana López-Villalobos, the episode unfolds Dr. Deborah Pagliaccia's multi-faceted exploration into complex issues like soil health, water and fossil fuel use, food access, and waste sustainability. Dr. Pagliaccia, affiliated with the University of California, Riverside, and the California Agriculture and Food Enterprise, shares her innovative research on utilizing fermented bioproducts from bokashi composting to nourish both plants and soil microorganisms, presenting a viable pathway towards a circular economy. This conversation extends beyond academic discourse, inviting individuals and industries to participate in the movement towards sustainable food systems by embracing practices that significantly reduce food waste and its accompanying environmental footprint. Through the harmonious blend of scientific insight and practical solutions, this episode serves as a catalyst for change, urging us to re-evaluate and amend our current linear consumption patterns for a more sustainable and eco-conscious agricultural landscape.

PUBLICATIONS

Pagliaccia, D., Bodaghi, S., Chen, X., Stevenson, D., Deyett, E., De Francesco, A., Borneman, J., Ruegger, P., Peacock, B., Ellstrand, N., Rolshausen, P. E., Popa, R., Ying, S., & Vidalakis, G. (2020). Two Food Waste By-Products Selectively Stimulate Beneficial Resident Citrus Host-Associated Microbes in a Zero-Runoff Indoor Plant Production System. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 4, 593568. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2020.593568

Gebiola, Marco & Garnica, A. & Pagliaccia, D. & Tomberlin, J.K. & Mauck, Kerry. (2023). Impact of bokashi fermentation on life-history traits of black soldier fly Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) larvae at an industrial scale. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed. 1-6. 10.3920/JIFF2022.0173. 

Deborah Pagliaccia; Michelle Ortiz; Michael V Rodriguez; Agustina De Francesco; Madison Amador; Benjamin Maki; Francesca Hopkins; Jonathan Kaplan; Valeria Lavagi; Samantha Ying; Georgios Vidalakis (2023). Enhancing Soil Health and Nutrient Availability for Carrizo citrange (Citroncirus spp.) Through Bokashi and Biochar Amendments: An Exploration into Indoor Sustainable Soil Ecosystem Management. Scientia Horticulturae. Volume 326, 15 February 2024.

Enhancing Greenhouse Agriculture: Analyzing the Cost-Effectiveness and Agronomic Benefits of Bokashi and Biochar Waste By-Products Soil Amendments in Citrus Nursery Production. Coming next.

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Fundings

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