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Systemic Food Waste – Mirror of the Free Market System?

Touch the Soil News #721(feature photo – CC SA 3.0)

Food waste has become a chronic and systemic issue – particularly for fruits and vegetables. News about food-waste abounds and we are often left feeling guilty that somehow it is all our fault. While we can do things at the individual level, the video clip below reveals that it goes far beyond the household.

At the forefront of wrestling with the issue, is the Natural Resources Defense Council. Here is the disturbing news:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables – 52 percent ultimately goes to waste and is not eaten
  2. Seafood – 50 percent ultimately goes to waste and is not eaten
  3. Grains-based foods such as bread – 38% ultimately goes to waste and is not eaten
  4. Meat – 22 percent ultimately goes to waste and is not eaten
  5. Milk- 20 percent ultimately goes to waste and is not consumed

 

When all of these food categories are averaged together, 40 percent of all food is wasted. Food waste at the farm level can reach as high as 30 percent due to marketing strategies, market prices, market acceptance and, at times, a lack of labor to harvest.

The food waste occurs all along the entire food chain – the farm, packaging and processing, distribution, retail outlets and households.

The largest portion of the overall waste (42 percent) occurs at home.

What are the odds that this waste can be materially curtailed within an economic and cultural system that is the cause of the problem?

The financial price tag of food waste in the U.S. is $100 billion. If those dollars were to circulate just 4 times, it would be the equivalent of funding 25 million jobs at minimum wage.

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