‘Wasted! The Story of Food Waste’ is a must see documentary
Anthony Bourdain’s Zero Point Zero documentary, “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” is a must watch film. It is compelling, informative, and important.
This is one documentary everyone should see. Rent it on a live stream, buy the DVD, or see it at the movies.
Real cooks hate to waste food. It is a mortal sin. A heinous crime. Something abhorrent.
If there is one thing that will make me talk to myself in anger, it is throwing out spoiled food. Food I bought or cooked and did not eat. Food I leave on a plate in restaurants because my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
When my mother threw food out, she would proclaim, “This is a sin.” Wasting food was a worse sin than murder in my home.
Food is life-giving sustenance. Wasting food is an abomination. Recovering food waste from feeding the hungry, feeding animals, making fertilizer, or creating energy is a blessing.
According to various studies and reports, Americans waste between 1/3-1/2 of the nation’s food supply, up to $200 billion per year.
Waste includes the full range of the food supply, from the farms and ranches, the grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers.
Worldwide, the annual cost of food waste is one trillion dollars.
1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually.
Over 90% of wasted food ends up in landfills.
30% of the land on earth is used to produce food.
800 million people are starving.
Grocery stores figure roughly 30% waste into their business plans. We pay for it at the register.
In the case of consumers, the average American family wastes between 20-30 pounds of food per month, roughly $1500 per year. Rarely do we think of what gets thrown away, whether at home or eating out.
These numbers are astounding.
People go hungry every day in our communities.
People who do not have the luxury to waste food barely get enough to eat.
In Chicago, where I live, one in six people goes hungry every day.
The working poor struggle to put one nutritious meal per day on the table.
It is a proven fact that children who do not receive proper daily nutrition fail to thrive. They may suffer from psychological or learning disorders. Disorders that can be prevented through proper nutrition. Where are all these people in public life who allegedly care about children?
Those on benefits, including Social Security, struggle to eat properly.
Food waste and hunger are rarely if ever discussed. Hunger does not go viral on social media. Food waste will not break the internet. There are no YouTube or Instagram stars discussing hunger and food waste.
New organizations do not create click bait headlines about food waste and hunger.
According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository:
It is getting harder and harder for families to make ends meet, and many people are finding themselves skipping meals or cutting back on the quality or quantity of food they purchase for themselves and their families.
- 37% are children under 18
- 9% are children under 5
- 6% are homeless
- 34% of households include at least one employed adult
- 22% of households report their main source of income is from a job
- 47% of households say they have to choose between paying for food and utilities
- 44% report choosing between paying for food and rent or mortgage.
Food insecurity is a real problem in our communities. It is an invisible problem. It is the one issue no one wants to discuss. It is the one issue everyone can do something about.
If you are overly concerned about climate change, food production and waste is a major contributor.
One of the main causes of food waste is overproduction. We do not need to produce more food. We need to reduce the volume of surplus food. Food that is wasted.
We, as a society, need to do better. We need to demand more from the politicians we elect. We need to get involved with our churches, community, and charitable organizations. We need to demand better of the agriculture and food industries.
Education is the key. The documentary shows how some sectors of the food industry and governments are handling food waste through recovery and recycling. Compost, energy production, animal feed, and meals to feed the food insecure are cited as examples.
Some nations passed laws on handling or eliminating food waste through recovery and recycling.
We need to educate ourselves. We need to educate others.
Every high school should bring back home economics courses. Young people should be taught how to shop for, preserve, and cook food. Nothing fancy, just the basics. It should be required for graduation.
People on benefits should be educated about budgeting, shopping, preserving, and cooking. We need more food instructors than social workers and social service personnel.
Everyone should learn to cook. Cooking is a survival skill. You should, at the very least, be able to cook for yourself and family.
Community leaders should work with the food industry to establish food banks and kitchens in every neighborhood. Grocery stores and restaurants should be encouraged to donate surplus food without fear of liability.
If the politicians will not do it, the food industry needs to go it alone. Besides altruism, it would foster good public relations. The industry can find ways to distribute surplus food to the needy. They can use their supply chain expertise to assist organizations fighting to mitigate hunger.
Food waste not fit for consumption can be recovered and recycled to feed animals or create energy.
As the EPA graphic above shows, food waste should be changed to food recovery. Food production should be cyclical. Whatever is not used for consumption should and could be cycled for other purposes. Landfills should be the absolute last option.
All of us can do something. We can educate ourselves and others, demand change, put pressure on the food industry, news media, and politicians.
Figure out what you can do to mitigate the serious issue of food waste in your home and community.
Be the blessing, not the abomination.