The Ugliness of American Food Waste
Food connects all humans back to the Earth’s soil, whether we are aware of it or not. Not only is food delectable, but it also fuels our days with nutrition, energy, and love around the dinner table because it is a centering, unifying aspect of each community and culture.
However, the U.S. has forced itself into a scary situation regarding food waste as culture has morphed for decades. Based on a recent EPA report, there was 218.9 pounds of food waste per person that was sent to landfills or combusted for energy sources. This simple fact has acted as a wake up call for parts of the government. Once this was researched and the government brought attention to such a pressing issue, in 2015 the USDA stepped in and helped set a goal to produce 50% less waste nationwide by 2030. This is the kind of momentum the country needs, but persistently and with lots more action, conversations, and hope. This is just the beginning steps of what needed to be done years, even decades, ago. But hey, better late than never.
So, many are left to question, do my actions at tonight’s dinner truly make a difference? Do I have that much power? Could little changes actually make an impact? The answer is absolutely. Everytime you buy something, you are voting. This especially goes for supermarkets because purchasing power of food has a say as to which companies, farming styles, ethics, prices, and overall well being we want to support. We don’t even realize how simple it is. When we buy oranges in the middle of a New England winter, we are supporting the long distance they travel to provide us with a variety of fruit year round. When we buy pre-packaged food wrapped endlessly in plastic, we are buying it knowing that this is single use plastic that will immediately be thrown away. When most of us purchase meat or dairy products, we hardly ever consider how much water it takes to maintain that animal, nonetheless realizing how much torture it probably went through. It all comes down to a choice, and as of now we often chose to be numb.
Food is super cool when you truly think about it. I love the art of going out of your way to collect ingredients, cooking them with just the right timing and seasoning, and then getting to savor your masterpiece. I also love to branch out and appreciate other people's creativity, whether that be at a friends house or at a new groovy restaurant. Food connects all humans, keeping us energized and ready to take on any day. This being said, it is our job to simply start adjusting our lifestyles in whatever ways we can to strike an equal balance of healthful eating, education, and environmental awareness of the problems that come with our luxurious options at the grocery store year round. We cannot ignore our position of power, especially because our country has more impact than a second or third class nation. Changing our habits with food waste and unsustainable agriculture is a perfect place to start because we have control over what we consume for every single meal. So, start a conversation, thank a farmer for their hard work, do your research on brands that you trust, avoid packaging, read labels, and lead by example. It may not always be easy, but it’s more important than most people are willing to realize and change for. One step a time leads to a lifestyle transformation. Our world needs you.
- Jaedin Guldenstern