Food Waste Position/Proposal By Natalie Parisi An Introduction to the Problem Food waste is something that affects us all. It happens anywhere food has a presence; the grocery store, restaurants, in our homes, at schools, on farms, in production and even in transportation. It affects people everywhere; those living oceans away and those that share our boarders, people living across America and throughout Utah, businesses and households alike. Being Aware is a Personal Responsibility So is the problem food waste itself, or that food is being thrown out when there are alternative options?
Or is it that we just don’t stop to consider there is a problem? My concern is that it’s not a priority for most people. In addition, there are those than honestly don’t care. We need to start caring and be responsible individuals. My goal is to raise awareness to this issue while helping myself and others understand more regarding food waste and how to prevent it. As I’ve begun this process of self education I’ve felt that the best way to paint a picture for others is to let the numbers do the talking.
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Let’s take a look at some of the statistics to better understand just how much is being wasted: “Every year in America 96 billion pounds of food is thrown out. That is 263,000,000 pounds a day, 11,000,000 pounds per hour, or 3,000 pounds a second. Wasting 96 billion pounds of food costs roughly 136 billion dollars annually. ” (Seifert, Dive! ) A study by Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization that tracks energy, resource and environmental issues, says that one-third of food produced worldwide for human consumption or an estimated 1. 3 billion tons, is lost or wasted each year. “Forgotten”, par. 6) The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease found that US per capita food waste has progressively increased by 50 percent since 1974. They also reported that food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and 300 million barrels of oil per year. (Hall, Guo, Dore, Chow, par. 1) “The UK, US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations. Up to half the entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork. If crops astefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people’s mouths. ” (Stuart, par. 1) The graph below illustrates that food wasted in 2010 reached almost 35 million tons. This is just in America. It was the highest amount of waste collected in weight. It was second only to paper, which we recycle more of. On the graph paper displays less in weight because they factored in the recycled amounts. (“Basic,” par. 1)
Fourteen percent of household food loss consists of packaged edible food that has not been removed from its original packaging and was not out of date. Much of this food loss is due to misfires in American food purchasing behavior. People purchase new products and never get around to using them since we are usually creatures of habit. People also purchase more product than they will use in order to “save money” on large quantity purchases. Every so often Americans clean out their cupboards and throw out these perfectly good foods. (Jones 11) Can you honestly say that you are not contributing to the problem?
Raising awareness also includes informing others of the issues that arise from food waste because they impact us all. Out of Our Control In a business environment there are government issued regulations and restrictions that have to be followed meticulously. (“US FSA” 1) Food items have “best by” and “sell by” dates that they have to adhere to. Farmers, food suppliers, restaurants, grocery stores and markets all have to play by the rules or deal with costly consequences. They can be fined, forced to shut down portions of their business, or worse, lose their business license altogether. Sklamberg, par. 3) Claiming Ownership In our homes waste caused because we don’t pay attention; we are inattentive and ignorant. For some of us, it just isn’t important. (Jones, Dive! ) Wasting food is a bad habit that affects all of society and we continue to implicate ourselves in the problem. Of the total of food loss that is going on about 40 percent is in the household. Overall a typical household of four loses about 600 dollars in food a year. (Jones 11) Like many things, we just don’t bother or we don’t feel that we have the time. We aren’t realizing how much it affects each of us.
Have you ever taken the time to stop and think about it? Thinking about it, I realize that every day I throw something away that could be saved and eaten later. When I take the trash out there are a number of food items that don’t need to be there. After we finish dinner I am wiping food off of plates and realizing that I’ve made too much. Every time I clean out the fridge there is food going into the garbage because I waited too long to use it. Whatever the reason, I realize that it does affect me in many ways and it’s constantly happening in my home.
Looking at the Impacts of Food Waste Food Waste affects our pocket book because we are essentially throwing out money. At the same time it is impacting us financially it’s also playing a huge role in the problems we see happening to our environment. The US Environment Protection Agency said, “Generating food waste has significant economic as well as environmental consequences. Whether you’re an individual, family, or business, chances are a considerable portion of your budget goes towards buying food — either for you, your family, or your customers.
And since we now throw away more food than anything else, that means we are throwing away a lot of our money. ” (“Basics,” par. 2) They went on to say that wasting food does more than impact our economy; it also impacts our environmental severely. This is because food that goes to the landfill quickly rots and becomes a significant source of methane gases, which can potently lead to global warming. “Landfills are a major source of human-related methane in the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions. (“Basic,” par. ) Landfill, though a great resource, are not the only place to discard of things that we deem garbage, especially with food waste. One impact that I would like to address briefly is the role that food waste plays in continued hunger and poverty. Take a moment to consider what you already know regarding these issues. Think about growing up and hearing your mother nag about the starving children who would never imagine wasting even a bite of the food. It may seem cliche but it is relevant. We know that hunger and poverty are everywhere.
I think that we often shrug it off as something that we have no control over. Being aware is power. It’s a very simple thing that can help us to change our perception. All of this is relevant and there are things that we can and should be doing as responsible adults. The alternative is to continue to be ignorant and selfish and to cause harm to our planet. Time to Open Our Eyes and Make a Change There are many things that we can consider doing as an alternative to food waste. We can watch what we purchase and monitor our home storage better. This requires time on our part because we must plan ahead.
We often buy more than we need and allow the excess to go to waste. We need to buy more responsibly, taking the time to plan meals and make shopping lists. Food is often wasted because it isn’t stored properly, which allows it to mold, rot, or get freezer burn. By planning ahead and storing food properly we can reduce the amount of food we waste. (“Five” 1) Not only that, but saving food is saving money. We can participate in our local communities. The food bank picks up food from local restaurants and stores and redirects it to shelters and other places in need.
The Food Bank of Utah and other local non-profit organizations all participate in these kinds of services. (“Food Drive” 1) Another simple and convenient alternative is volunteering at the local food bank to help redistribute donated food. If you don’t have the time to volunteer then you can drop off pre-approved items and drop off locations. You can find these items by accessing the food bank website. This food is donated by citizens who gather from their homes or hold food fund raisers. (“Give Food” 1) “Donating food that you don’t plan to use is a great way to save food while helping to feed the needy in your community. (Salinger 1) We can eliminate food waste at home through the process of composting. This is a process that allows food waste to be converted into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer for gardening. (Salinger 1) This is the most common form of food redirection and one that I have begun to experiment with. Composting as defined by The Utah Division of Solid Waste is “the transformation of organic material (plant matter) through decomposition into a soil-like material called compost. Invertebrates (insects and earthworms), and microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) help in transforming the material into compost.
Composting is a natural form of recycling, which continually occurs in nature. ” (“Composting,” par. 3) The ABC’s of composting are to have greens (grass clippings, weeds, kitchen scraps), browns (dead leaves, straw, hay, wood shavings), air and water. The greens need to be moist and fresh. You mix these together in a composting bin or in your garden with other soil. Once mixed together you need to keep damp and turn it every couple of days. This allows the oxygen to do its part. With time the natural process will produce soils.
You can speed up the process by adding worms, which also adds soil nutrients to your compost. The finished product can be used for gardening soil, mulch or planting soil. You will know it’s done when it has an earthy texture and aroma. (Lawrence and Wagner, par. 7) The best way to learn is just to do it. Practice and observation will help you find what works best for you and your environment. There are many resources available online and at your local library. (“Home” 1) Another option is to hire companies to pick up your food waste and compost it for you.
Most companies in Utah pick up from stores only. Ecoscraps is a company located in Salt Lake City, Utah that does just that. They send trucks to pick up spoiled food (only fruits and veggies) from retailers and garbage haulers and then turn it into 100% organic compost. (Paxman, par. 3 & 4) Once it has been created and prepared they sale it as gardening soil. These are great alternatives that we can play an active role in. They allow us the opportunity of redirecting food from our landfills. Finding a Solution That Works Best for You
I feel strongly that we all have an active role to play in decreasing the amount of food waste that occurs throughout the world. There are several things that we can do, but not everything works for everyone. Might I suggest finding something that works for you and making it happen. We all have time to do something, even if it’s being aware of what is in our fridge that we will have to waste tomorrow if not eaten today. If we don’t start now and take the time to pay attention then we continue to be responsible and play an active guilty role in the problems and issues present from food waste.