The Waste Land

The following facts summarize a discussion about Food Waste aired this morning on NPR News.

Think about it: 40% of food is wasted in the U.S. annually and 1/2 the food produced globally goes uneaten, yet 1 in 6 people do not have an adequate supply of food to promote health.

This problem begins on the farms with food discarded that is not good enough to meet store standards and continues in the stores themselves as produce is pulled for appearance or because it has perished. It ends in the homes as a result of over buying, poor food planning and a fear of those pesky expiration dates.  We sure do like our food in pretty packages, a standard we evidently can no longer afford.

Meanwhile, 80% of our water and 1/2 our land use is devoted to agriculture,  thus we are literally being swallowed by our wasteful tendencies from all angles.

With issues like child hunger and environmental degradation……is this a trend we can continue to accept?

A California based program called Farm to Family is managing to donate 120 million lbs. of food to food banks each year, with 20% donated by farmers and the other 80% essentially resulting from a glorified gleaning concept, where farmers are paid a small stipend for their over-abundant crops. This is one working solution. We need more.

What can you do? Let’s take a look at our kitchen. With 90% of foods scraps ending up in landfills, composting is a realistic alternative. It is especially appropriate in places like California that offer curb side pick-ups or on farms and in gardens that turn this waste into a source of nutrients for new produce and healthier plants.

We should consider buying our food in smaller quantities, incorporating left-overs and opting for quality frozen vegetables when necessary, which will ultimately lead to healthier food and better meal planning.

If the aforementioned ideas are appealing, check out this featured book, “Root to Stock Cooking, Art of Using Whole Vegetables.”

Let us not forget our farmers. Support them. Encourage them to support their local food banks. Let’s advocate for more funding toward programs that get our food off our farms and into the bellies of all our neighbors-far and wide.

Food waste is a global epidemic with serious consequences. Feed the people. Feed the children. Hunger hurts us all. BigMama