July 13, 2016
From the farm to the eaters table — tracking the amount of food waste along the way:
A few years back, we interviewed journalist Jonathan Bloom who had written a book (American Wasteland) and had launched a website of the same name that’s devoted solely to the food waste problem. It’s still a huge concern.
Today’s Guardian highlights the enormous amount of food waste in this country that results in 70 million tons of food waste each year.
The Guardian’s post From field to fork: the six stages of food waste traces the amounts and types of food that are lost along the journey from the farm to the eater’s table. Along the many miles involved (the average head of lettuce alone is reported to travel 1500 miles to market), a ton of food waste occurs. A big part of this waste is due to cosmetic imperfections. Buyers want their produce to be bug free and to look almost perfect. The food itself is otherwise just as tasty and nutritious but it can’t be sold.
When we hear messages that contain the vacuous phrase “feed the world”, it’s sobering to consider how much of the actual food that’s grown fails to reach the eater. According to the FAO, worldwide, 1/3 of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is either wasted or squandered and not eaten. Despite the pervasive myth, there’s plenty of food to feed the world, it’s other issues, including distribution, that form the key challenges. In the U.S., it’s largely an economic issue that prevents people from having enough to eat.
Here’s some statistics from The Guardian post concerning the percentage of waste for the following foods:
- Potatoes – 23%
- Strawberries – 45%
- Chicken – 19%
- Leafy Greens – 38%
- Breads- 32%
- What causes Hunger
- Action to cut food waste gains momentum across Europe
- How the Olympic Village Will Feed Favelas