What’s at Stake

‘I waste food, so what?’

That’s one reaction I get when I tell people that I’m researching food waste. Countering that argument from a logical perspective can be difficult, as I have a gut reaction against squandering (as do many people).

On that logical path, limiting food waste matters because farming and freight uses oil, water, time and money, pollutes the air and depletes the soil. In addition, some of the food Americans waste could feed hungry people.

A recent study by the USDA lends a glimpse at hunger in America. Some lowlights:

–11 percent of US households experienced food insecurity at some point in the year (meaning money limited their access to adequate food).

–17 percent of households with children less than six were food insecure at some point.

–30 percent of households headed by single women were food insecure at some point.

A corresponding study by America’s Second Harvest found that 35.5 million Americans were food insecure in 2006. Focusing on child hunger, the study found that New Mexico and Texas had the highest child food insecurity rates (24 percent).

In citing these numbers, I’m not saying that all food waste could be repurposed to feed hungry people; that’s logistically impossible.

I am saying that wasted food is part of the problem. And that for people (and children) to go hungry in the wealthiest nation in the world that produces more than twice the amount of food we need seems crazy. 

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