Repercussions of Food Waste

Chef Ali Gonzalez

Ali Gonzalez

Sustainable Culinary Solutions

Half eaten dishes left at a restaurant table create the Repercussions of Food Waste

To understand the ramifications caused by food waste, one simply just needs to see the huge impact it has created on our country.  This mostly leads to the topic of the Environmental impacts of US Food Waste.

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Enough Water & Energy – to supply more than 50 million homes.
  • Amount of Fertilizer used in the U.S. to grow all plant-based Foods for U.S. human consumption.

Just how much food do Americans waste? Well, if you search the internet most sites will tell you that the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year. The United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply, and equates to 219 pounds of waste per person.

Globally, we waste about 1.4 billion tons of food every year.

Uneaten food and food preparation waste originate from a variety of places such as residences and commercial establishments like grocery stores, restaurants, produce stands, institutional cafeterias, and kitchens, and industrial sources like employee lunchrooms.

There are many ways that we can prevent wasted food at home, at the office, in restaurants, and on farms – these results can be easily found on the internet.

The real topic here that I would like to bring forward that no one discusses and no one is truly bringing to the table is why is there so much food being wasted, and how is this affecting our overall well-being. So what are other reasons besides taking an approach at home to reduce food waste?  Well, let’s take a deeper look into the problems and why this has been increasing over the years. 

We Cannot Find Pickers To Pick The Crops

ERS estimates that $161.6 billion of food at the retail and consumer stage of the supply chain goes uneaten yearly. Through the entire supply chain, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 30 percent of global food loss occurs at the agricultural production and harvest stage, 6 percent at post-harvest, 3 percent at processing and packaging, 18 percent at retail and distribution, and 42 percent at consumption. 

What really caused this?

You may read that costs of labor, but if you recall back around 2004 most companies were being audited for immigrants and this led to the layoffs of several thousand workers on farms and in the hospitality industry. 

Now let’s dive into another angle with food waste

Everywhere you shop or dine they promote:

  • Supersize Your Meal 
  • Combo Your Meal
  • Restaurants promote happy hour – get half price for an appetizer, discounts on drinks, unlimited soft drinks, and most of all they try and upsell you with soup, salad, entree, and dessert. 
  • Restaurants serve large portions of food – this creates the wow effect and keeps you coming back as you only see the value. 
  • Supermarkets sell in bulk or combo packs now – in return most of these food products go to waste as most households do not have proper storage or vert to other foods during the week. 

As you can see institutions are driving food waste across the U.S. In return this translate to more packaging and creating obesity. We are pushing the newer generations to come into eating more processed, unhealthy larger portioned foods, leading to a huge reduction in life expectancy. This leads to food waste and over-production of foods that we do not eat and go into the garbage. 

Over 40 percent of Americans are overweight today, and you cannot say the cause is metabolism. 

What’s become the typical Western diet-frequent, large meals high in refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks-plays one of the largest roles in obesity? Foods that are lacking in the West are diet-whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts-seem which help with weight control, and also help prevent chronic disease.

All this is considered A Toxic Food-Environment

So what is the solution? 

Giving people advice on how to reduce at home is good, but that will not be the solution in the long run as Americans dine in restaurants, take out/deliver, and purchase pre-made foods. These all are here to stay. The biggest effect we can have is starting with the institutions – reducing portion size, marketing towards healthy alternatives, and education in the public schools. 

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