By Lacy Hansen for Diets In Review
We’re an odd lot, you know? As a whole, most humans like to hold onto “things.” We have boxes dedicated to “things” we want in our possession, because they hold some significance in our lives. However, the flip side is that we trash useful items like it’s a sport, especially in America.
We might have every love letter we’ve ever received, but we throw away items that can easily be reused or recycled. Even more disturbing, we might hold onto an outdated prom dress or a collection of useless comic books, but we throw away food while one in six Americans goes without having enough to eat. There’s a serious food waste issue taking place. Thankfully, several groups are working hard to reverse the trend.
April Fulton reported about this issue on NPR’s The Salt. In her article, she pulled up statistics from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which stated that 40 percent of the food in the U.S. goes uneaten. This attributes to the average American wasting 10 times more food than someone in Southeast Asia, which is a 50 percent increase in waste based on findings from the 1970s.
These waste issues are frustrating to read. It’s hard to see all of the food that’s going to the trash, while there are people in real need. There are several organizations joining the fight to change these numbers and start maximizing our resources instead of just dumping them in the garbage.
Starbucks in Hong Kong is getting more use from their coffee grounds. After they’ve been used for drinks, the company is combining them with wasted baked goods and turning them into things like fertilizer, plastics and even bio-fuels.
An inspiring organization called Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) has been gathering produce and packaged foods that have been deemed un-sellable by the grocery stores. The group then bikes these items to shelters and at-risk communities outlets since a few dings or blemishes don’t make them un-consumable. To date, BFR has “rescued” more than 128,000 pounds of food and been able to give most of that to those who are in need of such resources.
Arizona State students are working to create an app that will connect restaurants that have extra food with groups in need. The app is called FlashFrozen. Additionally, Wal-Mart has partnered with Feeding America to get the slightly damaged foods they receive into the hands of those who need it most.
One of the newest ways to combat food waste is a new practice called food auctions. Grocery stores will be auctioning off discontinued or seasonal items, or even items that are very near their expiration date. As a result, these foods will see a much better fate than the trash can.
In short, there are a lot of encouraging steps being taken in the fight against food waste. But when you see the numbers in reference to waste, we’ve still got a long ways to go. Next time you hoard your movie stub but flippantly toss some ripe produce, consider making a better choice. If you really need that ticket stub, fine, keep it. But I’ll bet there’s something better to do with a ripe banana than tossing it.