18 November 2009


My ideas on removing government subsidies for grain crops and finding ways of lowering the cost of vegetable crops are not surprisingly quite radical and unrealistic. There seems to be so much power (read: money) in the food technology and food processing industries that the day broccoli is cheaper than a Big Mac will likely never come. Up until now, I wasn't even sure the best way to go about approaching the situation.

I stumbled across a brand new book written by Tristram Stuart called Waste: Unocovering The Global Food Scandal. The book is an alarming study on the terrible problem of food waste throughout the world. Stuart brings to light the pathetic lack of information available on food waste produced by the industry. Disfigured and blemished vegetables are left to rot in the fields. Slightly damaged packaging from shipping is cause for a frozen dinner to go straight to the trash can. Food that is close to expiration is not sent to shelters, but simply tossed for fear of being responsible for food poisoning the homeless (even though the law protects them from this). It is often cheaper for a company to throw away unsold food than to lose a sale because they've run out. Millions of tons of food are wasted every year at all levels of the farm to wholesale to retail to consumer chain. This is an issue.

Stuart also poses another point later in his book. Why are we not donating that food to shelters or composting it or just simply making less? All these solutions seem to be viable options in solving our problems. They all keep America fed and keep garbage out of our landfills. It also decreases the demand for food and lowers the price because we aren't throwing away perfectly good food. It also decreases the demand for farm land if we don't have to grow as much food to keep up with demand. This allows us to grow the lower calorie (but higher nutrient) vegetables and fruits that we should be eating more of in the first place.

It seems so easy. Just stop wasting food. I'm sure the food industry will soon find a way of keeping this problem quiet, too.

If you are interested in environmental issues, sustainability, and food, you'll find Waste quite interesting. The research, photo documentation, presentation of the fact, and funny English spelling does an incredible job of convincing you to maybe just go ahead and eat that bruised banana.

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