Drought and Waste

I can’t remember the last time it really rained here in North Carolina. We got a few drops last week, but that was all. While it’s not as bad as this Aral Sea photo, there’s an “exceptional” drought in much of the Southeast.

There was an interesting article in The News & Observer today about how the drought is “hammering” N.C. farmers. Indeed, looking at this chart comparing October yields to last year and the 10-year average, things aren’t looking so hot.

So how does this relate to food waste? First, I don’t categorize failed crops as wasted food. Something has to be edible first before it can be squandered.

While a drought harms the farmers who lose portions of their crop, at least the diminished supply will drive up prices. Yet, there’s no silver lining for lower income Americans, who are hurt the most when food prices rise (due to drought and the effects of rising oil prices).

Higher prices could lead to less food waste if we value our food more than we currently do. Food rising above today’s historically cheap levels (in relation to income) may lead to less squandering. Then again, perhaps water conservation will beget food conservation. Both options provide some comfort in the flood of bad news.

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