The Ghost of Groceries Past

Did you know that, according to a study by the USDA in 1997, the average American wastes 26% of food purchased every year?

In 2004, the University of Arizona estimated this value to be even higher, around 40-50%.

What is the importance of this?

1. Even considering the fact that some of that food is inedible, the rest could serve to feed people in the U.S. or outside that do not have enough to eat, especially children in poverty.

2. A valuable resource is lost when the percentage of the discarded food that could be composted, isn’t.

3. Wasted food in landfills decomposes and negatively effects the atmosphere.

Eric Steinman on writes,

Once all of this decomposing food hits the landfill (whether it is contained in plastic bags or not) it continues breaking down and creating large amounts of methane gas, which is well known for contributing to the long dreaded greenhouse effect.

When food is wasted, the delicate balance of the food chain is disrupted. Earth’s ecology demands that every participant remain in the food chain through one means or another. In the case of food we do eat, this is done by processing sewage. But if uneaten food goes into a landfill — especially if it’s in a plastic bag — the food is less accessible to other organisms such as insects and bacteria that would normally return it to the food chain.

We’ve known for a long time that, like the Fellowship of the Ring, “the Quest (ecology) stands at the edge of a knife; stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all.” We hope that it has not already failed.

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