Benefits of Regulating Grocery Store Food Waste
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Ever thought about where food goes once it’s thrown in the trash? Normally, people don’t give a second thought to what goes into their trash cans. The trash cans get pushed to the curb, to be taken away, so it’s never to be seen or smelled ever again. In America, 40% of America’s food supply goes directly into the dumpster untouched and uneaten. Food waste can be meats, organic foods, canned goods, and all stages of the food supply chain or value chain. From Los Angeles to New York City, 35 million tons of unused food is thrown away. That's enough to feed Denver for ten weeks straight and almost one hundred Empire State buildings made of food.
American grocery stores are targeted for food waste because their desire is to sell the most enticing looking produce and to throw out less desirable, yet tastes the same, produce. These practices among the grocery stores make them more wasteful than the consumer’s themselves. American grocery stores should have a strict policy on food waste for unused food produce. This food could feed thousands of Americans that go hungry everyday. Food waste harms environment health due to decay and rot, in which the U.S. government has to put funding toward, to properly dispose of this waste.
A food waste policy will help with vast amount of money that goes to waste in American grocery stores. In the article by American Public Media, 40% of all food from our grocery stores never make it into the kitchen table at a cost of 165 billion dollars annually, and that’s only in the United States. In the world we all waste 750 billion dollars. America is the top area in waste food, next to China, Japan, and England. American grocery stores are aimed for the food waste policy, is because the production to retailing is more wasteful than the consumer.
France became the first nation to have a food waste policy: unused food thrown in the dumpster isn't allowed. Before the French had their policy they threw away 20-30 million dollars in wasted food. France became the first nation in the world to ban supermarkets from wasting food under a new policy this past year. French grocery stores also sell their organic produce that is misshapen, discolored, and “isn’t pretty to the eye” for half the price. If America used the same policy, the policy would help with our financial problem. If a food waste policy was placed like the French Waste policy Americans will save billions of dollars.
Poverty would decrease if America placed a food waste policy. The problem with America’s food system is that America wastes so much food, but yet Americans still go hungry. According to Elizabeth Royte of National Geographic, “1:7 American households have trouble putting food on the table at some point during the year.” “Poverty is a reality in America, just as it is for millions of other human beings on the planet. 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America, including 12.9 million children.
This is despite abundance of food resources. Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. Even though America doesn’t have a policy on food waste to help with the poverty issue, some groups around the U.S are making a difference. Reported by Randy Mason of Public Media, a team of volunteers arrives at this small farm in Kansas City, Kansas is starting a Gleaning program.
Gleaning is gathering leftover grain or other produce after a harvest. The group picks unharvested lettuce and other crops that might otherwise never be picked and wastes in the fields. Their group donates 3-4 hundred pounds of vegetables and fruits every Sunday.
At the University of Arkansas another aspect of food waste is being addressed- leftovers from restaurants and cafeterias. It's another gleaning program, a group called "RazorBack Recovery" is saving salads, sandwiches, and baked goods from dining halls and retail sites are taking the unused new to food pantries instead of throwing them away to the dump.
Food waste in America causes serious environmental health issues. When food waste is brought to landfills the unused foods sits there and rots creating gases that are unhealthy for the Earth. Wasting tons of food causes huge economic losses and a lot of needless hunger, but there are climate environmental issues deeply connected to food waste, from a study report from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use.
The carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases: making food wastage the third top GHG emitter after the United States and China. Pound for Pound of food goes into landfills across the country than any other source of waste. The problem to having unused food in a landfill, it creates methane gas which is more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is a very common greenhouse gas emitted by wetlands and livestock. It is also released into the atmosphere by human activities and natural gas sources. It is colorless and odorless. It may be dangerous in heavy concentrations and confined spaces, as it may be explosive if it comes into contact with an open flame.
A discovery from farmers in America, say methane gas may not be a bad issue. In Alaska's landfills, before the waste turns into methane gas in the fields. Nebraska’s gas companies take the waste and turns it into useful energy.
If America grocery stores were to have a policy on food waste, the effects would help with some of America’s vital issues. The policy would save America billions of dollars that are lost every year, it would help with the earth’s environmental health, and it would help American poverty. America should place a policy on food waste because there are so many overall benefits for each and every person in our country. If each person just starts making cautious decisions in what they throw away, this can be the start of making a significant difference in our country and the world. Thank you.
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