Food Waste, Remarkably Grotesque

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Discarded food is the biggest single component of US landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Photograph: Alamy

We have known for some time the problem is serious, and we are always looking for counter-balancing stories that also highlight solutions. And we are constantly learning more details on just how serious the problem is getting; in short, worse rather than better. Now, new words come to mind. Grotesque is probably the most appropriate (thanks to the Guardian’s ongoing attention to this problem):

The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

From the fields and orchards of California to the population centres of the east coast, farmers and others on the food distribution chain say high-value and nutritious food is being sacrificed to retailers’ demand for unattainable perfection.

“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”

Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.

By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs…

Read the whole story here.

 

One thought on “Food Waste, Remarkably Grotesque

  1. It’s all about profit, what a surprise there! Money is the root of all evil. We are wasting completely good food, hurting the planet and encouraging world hunger simply because it may not look it’s best but that is still fully edible and offers healthy nutrition, what is wrong with us?!

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