There are some issues in this world that have been so deeply imbedded into society that people have a hard time correcting themselves. For example, the idea of eating guinea pig in the United States is frowned upon, because we view these furry animals as pets. But in some countries where other types of meat are not readily available, readily choosing a source of protein is an unaffordable luxury.
However, there is one issue that is prevalent in this world today that I cannot understand why it exists.
I do not understand why food waste still exists today.
Right now, about 19.2% of households (almost one in 5 people) do not have enough resources to be able to feed their families. Despite the increase in jobs, the percentage of people who can comfortably afford food has not declined as expected. This is most likely due to inflation as prices of foods and meals increased significantly over the past few years.
Now, consider the statistics for food waste. Roughly 50% of food is thrown away in the US alone (the United States is the leading country in food waste), which equates to 60 million tons or $160 billion. There are various reasons for why this is true. Healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables are easily bruised, resulting in supermarkets deeming them unfit for sale and families throwing them away after days of ignoring. Another reason is that America has heavy subsidies on foods that have the most impact on food production, such as soybeans and corn.
To keep 19.2% of households from being able to afford food, we need about $167 billion dollars in funds, or $542 for every person.
Imagine this: what if, instead of throwing away all the foods, we can find an effective way to distribute leftovers or cosmetically ugly foods to families that can’t even afford to pay for food in general.
We can reduce food waste which reduce space in the landfills which ultimately reduces methane emissions into the environment. Alongside this, we can save billions of dollars from going to waste and putting them towards a more beneficial goal.
This is an ideal situation and I know there are many problems that hinder this kind of progress. But food waste can be prevented, household by household. Instead of throwing leftovers away, why not start a garden in your yard and compost the food? If you don’t have room for compost, you can always take your food to the nearest local community garden. Instead of throwing away an entire apple for having a discoloration, why not carve out that little bit and eat the apple? Instead of buying too much food to the point that half of it gets thrown away, why not be smarter next time? This way, you reduce food waste and save your own money.
I step into a restaurant or a dining hall and I see so much food going to waste. When people say, “Don’t leave leftovers, there are kids in Africa who are dying from starvation,” a common response nowadays is, “My leftovers can’t help them anyway.”
And yeah, sure. They can’t. But you have the privilege/ access to an abundance of food and the ability to use those leftovers and become a better person. Save it and eat it tomorrow. Compost it. Give them to someone who can eat it (me).