Food Waste

40. That's the percent of food in this country that never gets eaten, or that's grown and never comes to market. It's the food we distribute that never reaches a destination or sits on grocery store shelves without finding a consumer. And it's food consumers buy but never eat.  - Douglas Gayeton

So what's the big deal about food waste? To begin with, food takes an immense about of resources to produce and distribute. All for our consumption. Food is for eating. So how can we avoid our current problems with wastefulness? 

Across the country, solutions have been popping up to address issues of food waste. Food rescue teams in Colorado glean their local agricultural fields for produce left behind, and help alleviate local food insecurity by donating the food to regional food banks. While some look to the fields for food left behind, others practice the art of dumpster diving. Both methods stand by the same principle: just eat it!

Our food waste isn't limited to our crops left in the fields and produce rotting on the shelves. It is very much so an element to our animal product consumption as well. While we're not used to eating nose to tail, it's about time we start adventuring into how to eat the odd bits. 

Once upon a time, every piece of the plant and animal had a use - let's reintroduce ourselves to this appreciation.  Upcycling and composting are ways to bring back this appreciation by adding value to waste.  In a sustainable food system, we waste not, want not. We make sure to use what we have and save what can so as to ensure that we can enjoy such food stuff in the future. This requires action at a household and community. Groups, such as Food Not Bombs, are organizing to not only address the issues of food waste, but the concepts of food as a fundamental right.

It’s time to look beyond the taboos of less desirable foods and remind ourselves that food is a precious substance — we mustn’t take it for granted. How do you rescue food from being wasted? What are some of your favorite strategies to reduce food waste?

This week's terms

Food Rescue

The process of recovering produce, baked goods, grains and other food from being discarded into landfills or the ocean to provide food to the hungry. People can save edible food from dumpers, produce departments, grocery stores, farms, warehouses, restaurants and the waste of manufactured food that are used to provide prepared meals or uncooked groceries to individuals, their friends and families or to the public.

Glean

Anyone who picks leftover fruit or other crops that would have otherwise gone to waste, in farmers’ fields, orchards, residential neighborhoods or elsewhere. Rescued food harvested by gleaners is typically donated to people in need.

Compost

Composting is the process of aerobically decomposing a diverse mix of organic materials.  

Nose to Tail

"Respect for the animal. Using every cut and offal (internal organs and entrails) from an animal, that has been treated with respect, to feed a community." - Chef Matt Palmerlee

Food Bank

A physical space where food is collected for distribution, helping to reduce hunger by rescuing food that might otherwise have gone to waste. Usually run by a non-profit organization. Food banks accept donations of food and other necessities, such as diapers, and provide them to people in need. The extent of food waste in the U.S. is especially shocking because of the high level of hunger: 49 million Americans live in food-insecure households, including nearly 16 million children, according to the food bank network Feeding America.

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