It is no secret that food waste is one of the worlds most serious global issues. Shockingly, roughly 40 percent of the food produced in America is wasted annually. Every day, food rots in the fields, is trashed by the supermarkets, and is thrown away in our very own homes.
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the typical American family throws away roughly $1,600 worth of food annually. But why does almost half of the food produced in America go to waste? In the video below PBS News Hour finds out:
In the video, the team visit the municipal dump located in the Salinas Valley of California, also known as America’s salad bowl. It is estimated that the fertile strip of land that surrounds the town of Salinas produces as much as 70 percent of U.S. salad greens.
However, as the team chats to the dumps Operations Manager, Cesar Zuniga, a dump truck filled with fresh produce empties its load. Crisp greens, and bags of salad that have two weeks remaining on their printed sell-by dates, spill from the truck. According to Zuniga the contents of this load is pretty typical.
When PBS emailed Taylor Farms, the brand name on the bags found at the dump, Mark Campion, president of Taylor Farms Retail, explained that the primary reason for the bags disposal is that the salads get too close to the sell-by date. Although, the bags found had two weeks remaining on their printed dates, this time frame is not long enough for the products to be shipped and sold at the grocery stores. Typically, stores require 10-11 days of usable code date upon the products arrival at the stores distribution center.
But What Are The Effects of Waste?
Most farmers tend to over-plant by about 10 percent in order to guarantee that orders are met. However, this results in large quantities of the state’s precious water being used to grow crop that are simply wasted. In states such as California, where the drought is becoming increasingly worse, the wasted water will eventually have disastrous effects.
Additionally, the food within landfills contributes to climate change; as the food decomposes “it will release methane — a very powerful greenhouse gas,” explains JoAnne Berkenkamp, a senior advocate for the environmental group’s Food & Agriculture Program. Although some of this gas is being captured and converted into energy, much of it is still entering our atmosphere.
Unfortunately, these are just a couple of the many social and environmental issues caused by food waste. However, by working collectively we can begin to finally overcome this growing challenge. You and your household can make an incredible difference by simply disposing of your food waste correctly, and by changing your spending habits.
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