I know there are transportation, storage, and political obstacles in third world countries that make it difficult to get fresh food to the people who need it most. That's a global-level problem that I can't do much about, except to write to my elected officials. I urge you to write as well. So much food is wasted that it could feed all the hungry people of the world twice over, if we could just dedicate the energy and will to make it happen.
One of the pieces NatGeo addresses is ugly food. Farmers don't even send misshapen food to market. Grocers sort through and discard any bruised fruit or items that aren't of uniform size. Although there's plenty of waste in meat, dairy, grains, and packaged foods, the biggest waste by far is from fresh fruits and vegetables -- the items that are most critically needed for good health.
We can impact food appearance policies. We can ask grocers for the uglier items. We can refuse to buy waxed produce (waxed and shined to make it look more appetizing). We can shop at farmers' markets and interact directly with farmers, asking them to please bring their rejected food next week and we'll promise to buy it. Often rejected produce can be purchased at about half the price of the perfect pieces.
Animal feed is a great way to use produce scraps -- the wilted leaves that get peeled off the lettuces and cabbages before they go on display, last week's grapes that get thrown out to make room for the new order. You get the idea. The only thing keeping these foods from being used is transportation. The stores aren't going to pay for it, and the livestock farmers often aren't able to pick it up.
Please think about this massive global problem, and take a moment to decide what you can do to help solve it. Donations to Benefit Brownies help a great deal, of course, but for those who can't donate or who want to do more, there are powerful options.
- Talk to your grocery store's produce manager about waste. The more people who speak up about this problem, the sooner stores will get the message that it's not OK with us to put profits before the well-being of our people and our planet.
- Save your own food trimmings and compost if you can. A lot of vegetable scraps are good for dogs! (Not onions, though, please don't feed Fido any onions. Or garlic, grapes, or caffeine.)
- Write to your local officials and make them aware that food waste is an important issue facing all of us.
- Contact charities near you who feed people in need, and ask how you can help. I bet half of them will need people to go pick up donated food from nearby stores and farms.
- Find out if your community has a gleaning team and volunteer, or even just write a note of support.
- Talk about food waste. Make it bigger news than the buffoons running for office. Tell your news provider that you want more coverage on this problem.
Photo source: nationalgeographic.com