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Thistles and Roses

Food waste is a bigger problem than we think


Have you ever thought about food waste? I had thought about it, mostly in terms of our household, but some recent news reports and some online research have revealed to me some shocking statistics about food waste on a broader scale that I did not know. 

It is time we started thinking about food waste if we are responsible citizens. And while we are at it, we need to think about hunger in the world and the U.S.

According to Feeding America, www.feedingamerica.org, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S. every year. That is 130 billion meals and $408 billion dollars worth of food thrown away each year. According to FA, that is a staggering 40 percent of all food produced going to the landfills.

Their website says 34 million Americans face food shortages, including 9 million children. 

The causes of food waste are many:

  • Food thrown away at homes, schools and restaurants
  • Unharvested crops because the price is too low for the producer
  • Problems getting food to market because of transportation problems
  • Food that is not up to grocery stores standards because of color or appearance

According to the World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org, U.S. schools waste 530,000 tons of food annually. Of that amount, 50 percent is wasted fruit and vegetables.

I saw a recent news report in which a school janitor had photographed a garbage can filled with some 50 unopened cartons of milk in a school cafeteria. The milk was not expired and cool to the touch!

World wide the numbers are even more appalling. According to UNICEF, 328,000 people world wide are facing hunger in 2023.A Forbes magazine article by Niall McCarthy in 2021 reported that 931,000 tons of food is wasted in the entire world annually.

According to the Halcyon Movement, www.thehalcyonmovement.org, 25 percent of the world’s fresh water is used to grow food that is never eaten. Water is so precious and we find many ways to waste it.

Another U.N. report states that eight percent of greenhouse gases are produced by uneaten, rotting food.

What can we do about it locally? According to an NBC 5 KDFW report, four students from the Dallas ISD’s School for the Gifted and Talented created an app called FoodNex. The app, which the reports says is similar to a dating app, connects businesses with extra food to local food pantries and food banks.

We also should begin at home. According to multiple websites, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.usda.gov, the average U.S. household wastes a third of all food purchased. 

More about that in a future column. For now take a few moments, and maybe come back and reread these statistics later. Ponder just what food waste means to the world, your family, and to you.


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