There a few things to consider when throwing out the container of strawberries that sat in the refrigerator for weeks. By doing so, this amounts to a major misuse of natural resources like water, land, energy, as well as labor. Also, this waste disposal contributes to Greenhouse Emissions, Global Warming, and Climate Change. “”Up to one-third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people.”” (FAO, 2018) Food loss and waste not only impact the consumer’s pocketbook, but it affects the environment, world’s economy, and efforts to relieve hunger.
Agricultural Production Waste is one of the leading causes of food loss. Farmers produce excess crops to get a plentiful harvest but with the expectation of pest attacks or bad weather. This means, “”Producing wasted food required approximately 30 million acres of land, as well as 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water, 1.8 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer and 780 million pounds of pesticides.”” (FB, 2018) Then, crops are sorted between the ‘uglies’ and the ‘pretties’ and transported to the processing facilities. If by chance they sit too long in the distribution centers, then they are donated or considered waste.
Most Distribution Waste is made by grocery stores and restaurants. Supermarket displays must meet standards by weight, size, and shape. The produce department only displays the best looking fruits and vegetable because it is a large profit for the store. Consumers tend to buy the biggest, brightest and prettiest produce so the store will keep the shelves stocked to emulate the appearance. Then again, those unfortunate ugly fruits and vegetables will be donated or discarded as waste.
Food Consumption Waste in the United States is a major problem. Households buy excess and dispose of more food than they consume. “”Studies show that more than 80% of Americans misinterpret date labels and throw food away prematurely, under the misconception that it’s necessary to protect their families’ health.”” (2017) The real truth is the expiration date is a marketing tool to make the consumer think the product is past expiration so there is a need to buy more. In most cases, the Sell-by and Use-by dates are a recommendation. Obviously, if food smells and looks bad then it is not safe to eat.
Consumers can take a few steps to help like first in first out, smaller portions, shop smart with a list, understand the date on food, sharing what you don’t want, love your leftovers, turn into compost, and buy ugly fruits and vegetables.
Bringing awareness is the most important things to help avoid food loss and waste. Help support and be a part of programs to save the food and relieve hunger. It is critical to making small changes for sustainability to reduce the waste and preserve our environment.