“Currently, more than 48 million Americans live in households that struggle to get enough to eat, while the amount of food thrown out in the United States every year is enough to fill the Rose Bowl to its brim. Redistributing only 2 percent of food waste would end hunger in the United States.”
American society is currently plagued by the idea that it is necessary to offer oversized portions of food. I first became aware of the alarming issues that coincide with food waste in America during my time as a member of the Bucknell Dining Sustainability Club. As Sustainability Ambassadors, we are tasked with the job of trying to make Bucknell dining more environmentally friendly. We encourage dining services to work with the local food producers and have them offer more organic options to students. We have been responsible for changes such as the switch to a tray-less cafeteria, and recently, this year, have been working with Jonathon Bloom, the author of American Wasteland. Last semester, he gave a speech to the student body about the problems of food waste, and together with our club, we performed a waste audit in the cafeteria. We collected 93 pounds of food waste during a 2-hour collection period, and just last week collected 55 pounds for our second follow-up waste audit. Bloom was there to educate students about these issues and spoke about disturbing statistics such as the estimate that 25% of all the food Americans bring into their homes, goes to waste.
Food waste is a problem for 3 main reasons: ethics, the environment, and economics. The ethical issue is the injustice that so many people in this country are going hungry while such a large proportion of food is going to waste. The environmental dilemma behind this waste concerns all of the natural resources that are intensively used in food production. Large amounts of water and gas are wasted when we have produced large amounts of food that will never be eaten. Finally, economics is the last main reason that we need to be worried about food waste. A significant expense is incurred by agricultural producers, consumers, restaurants, and stores on foods that end up in the landfill.
Now, the next question is what we can do to solve this problem. Personally, as consumers we have a few options to make a lasting impact. We can focus on smart shopping by planning meals and making lists about what we actually need to purchase. We can limit our portion sizes and increase our knowledge of food. We can also volunteer at food recovery programs that redistribute extra food to people in need. In addition, Bloom often challenges the people he meets to buy 25% less food than usual at their next trip to the grocery store. On a larger scale, Bloom suggests that the best way to prevent food waste is to ban organic waste from being accepted at landfills. He says that this would make people think twice about how much food they are buying and would promote better ways of using food purchases. This ban tactic has successfully been implemented in other countries, as well. To save the world we need to put a conscious effort into what we consume. The reduction of food waste can ultimately protect the environment, fight hunger, and save money.