Food for Thought, Literally

Today I watched this short news story on American food waste produced by PBS Newshour and NPR. Titled, Why does almost half of America’s food go to waste? this video profiles how we waste food and where it goes. Sure, I always feel bad about when I buy too much produce and am not able to finish it before it goes bad. But, in the US, this habit only contributes to about 5% of the 40% of total waste per year. That means, of all of the food produced in the US for human consumption, only 60% of it is actually eaten. 30% of the the food that becomes waste, doesn’t even make it off of the farm to get to consumers!

The section of this video featuring cauliflower was so shocking to me. A non-white or oversized piece of healthy food is left in the field to be ground back into the dirt just because it isn’t perfect! Allison Aubry asks an important question, “It’s crunchy. It’s tasty. It tastes like any other cauliflower I have ever had. So, are we just shopping with our eyeballs and forgetting about all about our taste buds?” Yes, Allison, many Americans rely so much on what produce looks like that taste might even be forgotten. My godmother, who I love dearly, even said at dinner the other night, “I just don’t like that organic stuff. It’s too expensive and it just doesn’t look as good as the other produce.” We will be having a conversation soon about this topic…

The other shocking part of this video is all of the fresh food that goes straight to the landfill. The expert from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Peter Lehner, explains how food waste rotting in landfills produces methane gas which is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. The whole time, all I can think is: COMPOST!!!!! Why have industrial compost facilities not become mainstream? It’s likely the cost… but it just makes so much more sense to turn our waste back into soil–back into something we can actually use! Putting matter into the landfill only increases the size of the landfill!

The efforts explained in this video to divert some of the the food waste are so clever. I chuckled at the Imperfect Produce ads. I know some students at DU started the DU Food Recovery Network just this year, which is a great step in the right direction at our University. Still, more needs to be done! People need to be aware of this issue and get engaged with diverting food waste to better causes. It seems to me that GMOs aren’t event necessary. WE HAVE ENOUGH FOOD. We just need to change what we do with it.

Written by Brianna Johnson, ESLLC Program Coordinator

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