I actually was inspired to create this post because of UnnaturalVegan, but also have been planning on making a post about this for while. I guess now I have very little excuse to be lazy.
Food waste is a huge issue in many parts of the world, but it has mostly become a first world problem. Not only is this seen at higher rates in countries with higher disposable incomes, but it is also seen in a person-by-person aspect as well. Richer people are more likely to be wasteful with their food.
This makes sense as if you live in a low income country, or live in poverty, you don’t exactly have the privilege to allow food to spoil, and you use as much of it as you can in order to save money on food. I try my best in regards to this as well, being a person who lives in poverty and tries hard to keep as much food as possible from spoiling, which is not always done.
In terms of food waste, creativity and composting are excellent ways to save a little money. I have known of people who make their own beef and chicken broth from bones left over from dinner. I make bread crumbs from end pieces and stale pieces of bread. And the best thing you can do to avoid food waste is to freeze everything you know you will not eat within the next few days. Some other things you can make with food waste includes:
- Orange/Lemon Zest out of peels
- Coffee Grounds as compost of deodorizers.
- And more
Food waste also has ecological impacts as well. Since food decomposes anaerobically in a landfill, it creates a lot of Methane gas that contributes a lot to Global Warming. 18% of all the stuff we toss out is food waste, which is only second to paper. Food waste is also what often lures wild animals to landfills, especially birds, who can accidentally ingest bits of plastic, and suffocate, get pieces lodged in their stomach preventing digestion, or otherwise can harm or kill the animal, so reducing food waste is also pro-animal welfare.
The biggest chunk of food waste comes from meat products. About half of all meat that is lost in America and Europe is lost at the consumer level. 20% of all meat produced is basically tossed out, and at the consumer level, this costs Americans over 19 billions dollars a year! Eliminating meat from your diet will actually reduce this a lot, as for every pound of beef wasted is thousands of gallons of water and several pounds of vegetables used to feed the cow wasted. But at least lowering intake will help as well.
Many people also live in America without food stability, and many cannot afford food at all. Donating food you know you won’t eat in time to churches, food banks, soup kitchens, charities, or simply giving to people who know are in need of assistance helps not only people in need, but also lowers food waste as well.
There is also Freeganism, which is the act of eating perfectly good food that has been tossed out mainly by grocery stores. A good documentary to watch on this would be Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Another good video to watch is HERE. Many food chains throw out perfectly good food, which you can often find piled up in their dumpsters. Sadly, most grocery stores have took it upon themselves to place locks on their dumpsters in order to prevent exactly that, and many stores will refuse to sell customers food that are being prepared to be tossed out.
Some supermarket chains, such as Kroger, have programs going as far back as 2008 that donate food to food banks and other places to help the needy instead of just tossing the food out. But these are not common enough. When I worked at Dollar General my manager told me they had a request sheet they could fill out to donate the items considered waste, but the store I worked at never utilized that, and I don’t know if that was a legitimate thing or if my boss was just confused.
The good news is that food waste is declining due to all of these efforts by people and organizations, but food waste among the privileged and rich are still really high, and need to be addressed. Anything you can do to lower food waste will benefit you, your wallet, the environment, animals, and the poor. So plan a little.