We’ve all eaten an apple that looks like the one above. Oh wait, no we haven’t.
The fruit and produce we eat is without a blemish or disfigurement and this is because these perfect foods are the only products grocery stores are willing to put on the shelves. The rest hit the dumpster because, well, it doesn’t financially hurt the store much to do so. But the impact on our environment and world is massive. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans discard nearly half of their food in one year. This food waste actually has the value of roughly $165 billion according to their report. Grocery stores are big contributors to this problem, tossing out “$15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year” as estimated by the USDA according to the Washington Post. Of course, the waste expands past fruit and veggies. Grocery stores overstock and discard perfectly good food well before it spoils. A needed reduction in food waste would not only lessen the largest component of solid waste in landfills but also help feed millions of Americans.
So what have people done and what are people doing to help?
This may sound absurd, but some choose to only eat foods that they have retrieved from dumpster diving. And they have made a documentary about it. While this lifestyle choice is for the few, the reality is they are spreading awareness about the problem. Education is great and something we can all help out with without ever having to step foot (body?) into a dumpster. So spread the word and check out the documentary called Dive! on Netflix and the trailer here:
Another approach to grocery store waste is in the works by a man named Doug Rauch. He is currently working on a venture called Daily Table, a nonprofit store that will sell healthy items in current food deserts. The great innovation is that the items sold will be items that would otherwise be thrown away by large grocery stores. Instead of turning perfectly edible food, those ugly fruits and vegetables we talked about earlier and food that has not expired, into waste they will be redirected from grocery stores to Rauch’s stores and either prepared into meals or sold as is to local customers. His inventory will cost nearly nothing since it comes in the form of donations, and larger grocers will be incentivized by tax deductions to donate. Not only will food waste be reduced, but also hungry Americans will have access to healthy, affordable foods! Doug Rauch is the former president of Trader Joes so he has serious experience in the food industry. Let’s hope we see Daily Table come to life in the next year or so!
In conclusion and appreciation for reading, here is a delicious fall recipe for a butternut squash mac and cheese dish that I cooked this week and simply had to share: http://www.literallydarling.com/blog/2014/10/09/fall-cooking-butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese/