Half of American food produce is thrown away due to demand for ‘perfect food’ as rest of the world starves
US July 13:Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.
The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry
Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards,according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials as reported by the Guardian
“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida.
“What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”
Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.
By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs.
That lost food is seen increasingly as a drag on household incomes – about $1,600 a year for a family of four and a direct challenge to global efforts to fight hunger, poverty and climate change.
Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: 1.6bn tonnes of produce a year, with a value of about $1tn. If this wasted food were stacked in 20-cubic metre skips, it would fill 80m of them, enough to reach all the way to the moon, and encircle it once.
Food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than India or Russia.
“There are a lot of people who are hungry and malnourished, including in the US. My guess is probably 5-10% of the population are still hungry – they still do not have enough to eat,” said Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
“That is why food waste, food loss matters a great deal. People are still hungry.”
That is not counting the waste of water, land and other resources, or the toll on the climate of producing food that ends up in landfill.
This results in formation of methane gas contributing to clamte change due to greenhouse effect.