Do you know that 1/3 of all food that’s produced is wasted? That waste happens at every step of the food chain, from fields to supermarkets, to restaurants and home? That 90% of unused food in the US goes into landfills where it decomposes slowing, releasing methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2? That the ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates on packaged food are set with the goal of selling more, not keeping food safe? That ignoring the dates and using the your nose instead makes much more sense?That significantly reducing waste could help eliminate hunger and have a major impact on mitigating climate change?
Fourth Friday attendees learned all of this and more. And they got a glimpse at some creative solutions. Much waste in farms and fisheries occurs because people (enabled by supermarkets and restaurants) have an overly narrow view of what’s good to eat. People eat only the heads of broccoli and cauliflower although the stems and leaves are healthy and delicious. They stay steer clear of certain seafood just because they haven’t heard of it. And that’s only the start. The ‘good’ is harvested, and the rest is dumped.
The people in Wasted! want to change all that. The film featured chefs and others who are changing perceptions about what is good food. They’re renaming foods and creating delicious gourmet dishes from food that has been considered undesirable.
A common misunderstanding is that stores are restaurants aren’t allowed to donate unsold food. Not true! Good Samaritan laws in California and the US protect those who donate in good faith. This blurb from LA County gives some good guidelines on food donation as does this statement from the California Dept of Education. Also, check out this Huff Post article.
Because the waste problem happens at every stage in the food supply chain, everyone can have an impact. You can control how you interact with the businesses that sell you food, consider what you buy, plan your meals, and dispose of any unavoidable waste responsibly.
More ideas from the audience:
- Village Harvest volunteers harvest fruit from people’s backyards to help people in need.
- You can donate excess produce from your garden to your local food bank or soup kitchen.
- You can also list food you’d like to give away on NextDoor or other neighborhood lists.
- We can all help spread the word to others about food waste and each of us can have an impact.
Last but not least, a warm thank you to Zero Waste Palo Alto, which sponsored the film, and to Sarah Fitzgerald from Zero Waste, who brought a display on how to sort your waste and answered lots of questions from the crowd.