"Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value," the pope said. "Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry."
The pope dedicated his audience, which attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world, to the U.N. World Environment Day, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The pope and the U.S. government might be on the same page when it comes to food waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday the U.S. Food Waste Challenge calling on others across the food chain -- including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and other government agencies -- to reduce, recover and recycle food waste.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Bob Perciasepe, acting administrator of the EPA, said in 2010 an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants and homes never made it into people's stomachs. It's estimated almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008 was left uneaten food in homes and restaurants.
"Food waste is the single largest type of waste entering our landfills -- Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food," Perciasepe said in a statement. "Addressing this issue not only helps with combating hunger and saving money, but also with combating climate change: food in landfills decomposes to create potent greenhouse gases."
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