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. 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 wastefully 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...