Food Waste in America

Food+Waste+in+America

Naima Criss, Editor

As America evolved through the decades, our leaders and revolutionaries continuously ignored the needs of the environment, compromising our health and well being for quick cash. Because of this, our ecosystem faces many perils between the careless act of littering and the rising rates of climate change. However, all of these issues are man-made and therefore can be fixed by man as well. With commitment and community, we can undo the mistakes of our past. 

One of the biggest issues we face today is food waste, not just because it compromises the integrity of our environment but because it negatively impacts the economy and each other. Food waste is a senseless out of control situation that many are working tirelessly to fix. But still an issue needed to be discussed. 

 

What is the Food Waste Problem?

In America, approximately 30-40 percent of food goes to waste each year, which is about 72 billion pounds. Meanwhile, 50 million people struggle to provide food for themselves. Every community in the country has at least one family that struggles with food insecurities, including the suburbs and rural communities. Grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers all constantly throughout perfectly healthy food because of the slightest blemishes since it holds an unappetizing look. Others buy food in bulk, providing appropriate preservation for the food, meaning that most of it rots before it’s eaten anyway. People focus so much about themselves that they carelessly harm others without second thought. Hunger is a serious situation that can be avoided with planned food moderation, donations, and awareness. 

Relatively, 72 billion pounds is about $218 billion dollars worth of wasted money, which is about ⅔ of the US population. However, 10.5 percent of that population lives in poverty. As the population increases, so does everyday prices and living expenses. It gets more difficult everyday to provide simple shelter and necessities for yourself, let alone a family, especially since of the pandemic. Whole communities can’t afford to waste that much money. 

Food waste widely overuses and waste other resources as well. Around 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is roughly one-third the world’s total agricultural land area, is used to grow food that is wasted. And, with agriculture accounting for 70 percent of the water used throughout the world, food waste also represents a great waste of freshwater and groundwater resources. It’s said that the volume of water used on wasted food is roughly three times the volume of Lake Geneva, 21.35 cubic miles. All of this ties back to world hunger. We have the supplies and ability to solve the hunger situation in America if we better spread out resources and are more mindful of our food purchases. Simultaneously,  21% of landfill waste volume is waste, 21% of freshwater is used to produce food that is then discarded. Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane– a more powerful greenhouse gas than even CO2. For the uninitiated, excess amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons absorb infrared radiation and heat up the earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change. 

 

Solutions

Several different organizations are working to combat the growing food waste problem in America and there are several opportunities to help. For example, Feeding America, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving food to those in need, partners up with manufactures, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers to rescue the surplus food wasted before it ends up as landfill. Their more recent innovation, MealConnect makes quick and safe food donations possible by matching food business to Feeding America. You can become a monthly donor or volunteer time at their food banks through their website. Also, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the US Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, where businesses and organizations have made public commitments to help reduce the US’s food waste rate by 50% by the year 2030. 

However, you don’t have to be a part of a large cooperation to help contribute to the downsizing of food waste. A tactic simple enough for everyone is food moderation. You could start planning food for a week and buying only what you need from grocery stores. Also, developing good food storage habits so your nutrients can stay fresh and edible for longer periods of time. And not being so picky about the way foods like fruits and vegetables look, especially for simple dinners that will be gone quickly anyway. 

Extra food could be composted or recycled, so at least the waste becomes biodegradable and useful in some way. It also could be given to other consumers like pigs or dogs. If none of these options are available, you can also donate to Feeding America’s food banks or Food Bank of the Rockies.