A new report has indicated that food wastage globally, and particularly in America is at an all-time high, a tragic situation especially when wastage is so easy to prevent. The report from the US Department of Agriculture indicates that Americans are perhaps the most wasteful people in the planet’s history and also one of the most gluttonous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that over 35 percent of Americans can be classified as officially obese.
Within the United States alone one third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced annually is wasted, which amounts to 133 billion pounds of food thrown away. According to the report the wastage was caused by spoilage, inadequate or incorrect cooking or suffered natural shrinkage because of the loss of moisture. A large chunk of the wastage was also caused by people who did not like the food they bought and therefore simply threw it away. At the same time the cost of providing medical aid for the 35 percent of the population who are obese is placing a crippling load on healthcare programs.
Another aspect that makes this alarming picture all the more gloomy, is that all that food that is being wasted cannot be used to feed the hungry and homeless. Laws have been put into place that ban the feeding of homeless people in every city of the country. According to a new policy that went into effect on February 15 in Columbia, South Carolina, charities and non-profit organizations have to pay a fee and get a permit 15 days ahead of feeding any homeless person in a park. A charity that was interviewed had been distributing free food in a park for the past 12 years. Under the new policy this organization will now have to pay about $120 a week just for a chance to feed homeless people.
The days of mindless food wastage that has hit an all-time high may however be soon be over as people look at ways to prevent waste and be more judicious. The cause for this is the growing food crisis that is beginning to be felt all over the world. In the US, about have of all the produce comes from California which is currently reeling under severe drought. Large tracts of land are turning into a sandy wasteland and farmers have already had to leave more than half a million acres of agricultural land uncultivated due to the lack of rainfall.
According to researchers from the National Geographic, the California region is drought-prone and it is impossible to predict the duration and severity. Some droughts have lasted for decades and one went on for 200 years. With California unable to produce the usual amount of food, prices are set to skyrocket. The hike in the price of beef last week saw people increasing consumption of chicken, pork, fish and turkey and it will be just a matter of time before the inflated prices spread to more products.
The food wastage situation in other parts of the world is just as shocking. Overall 25 to 33 percent of food that is produced is wasted. In some parts of the world this can mean the difference between malnutrition and inadequate food, according to a World Bank report released on Thursday. Speaking on the topic of wasted food, Jim Yong Kim the president of the World Bank said, “The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful.”
As food wastage reaches an all-time high, here are a few ideas on how waste can be avoided and prevented.
Most foods can be used for a few more days after the best by date has expired. Checking for physical cues of spoilage can prevent good food from being wasted.
Fruits and vegetables that have surface irregularities and blemishes can be perfectly good on the inside. Break the mindset of only buying attractive and uniform produce. Use green leafy produce and herbs that have gone slightly soft to make juices, stews, soups or stir-fry and as pizza topping.
By Grace Stephen