Built-in Waste

Tuesday I linked to an article on the massive food waste in Britain. Buried deep within that piece was a fascinating quote that warrants discussion:

Tim Lang, food policy professor at City University, said: “Waste is a fundamental part of the food economy and it will be hard to get rid of. I do not see how simply appealing to morals will do it.”

He’s got a point. America’s food economy, like Britain’s, is built upon abundance and waste.

Restaurants and supermarkets would rather waste food than lose a sale. They are much better at predicting demand, but still overorder in case something odd–like a big storm–leads to a spike in business.

photo by ms cwang (via flickr)Convenience stores are based upon, well, convenience. They’re not cooking anything to order and as a result, they toss more food (and coffee) than anyone–26% according to this study. This is increasingly true as they offer more variety like sandwiches, sushi, taquitos, etc. The same holds true, to a lesser extent, for Fast Food restaurants.

“Appealing to morals” alone will not end food waste, but it can’t hurt. If we’re wasting about half of all the food we produce, we need all the help we can get.

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