Produce does not have to be perfect or pretty to be edible.
Food waste is a huge problem in not only the U.S., but around the world. It is a nearly completely avoidable issue given that everyone involved from the top down works together. Food waste not only hurts the planet and furthers the problem of a lack to access to food for the poor, but also it is very costly.
Food waste harms the environment in several ways. First, by wasting food more input and resources are required to grow more to make up for what is wasted. Additionally, more energy input is needed which increases greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The effect on the environment that I dislike the most is that by having the wasted food sit in a landfill it releases a very large amount of methane! Methane emissions are even more damaging to the environment than CO2. This is because methane has four carbons as opposed to one. (Insert how many cars)
As a nation with a vast food production infrastructure American farmers could easily supply the country’s population with enough food. Based solely on what is produced, no American should go hungry. After all, in 2010 the U.S. produced 4,000 calories per capita. (Source) However, once waste was factored in that number was cut by about 37%. In no way shape or form should there be that much waste produced in our food system. Especially while more 37 million people in this country struggle with hunger.
That issue is only magnified by the current state of our country. With job losses in the millions and people struggling to get by, the issue of hunger has only grown. If the food which is deemed “imperfect” or “unfit for selling” was instead allocated to feeding the hungry, we would be killing two birds with one stone.
Talk about cost of all this wasted food. In 2010 when over 30% of food produced in the U.S. was wasted the cost of all of that wasted food cost almost $162 billion dollars. (Source) That’s higher than the GDP of 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. When food waste is totaling higher in cost than a third of U.S. states total revenue production in a year, the problem at hand is in dire need of being assessed.
Growing your own garden can really help you not only remove yourself at least partially from a highly wasteful system, but it also teaches you what goes into producing food and what realistic results really are. When you grow your own food and you spend months investing time and energy (and money) into it you have a greater appreciation for whatever comes out of your garden.
I believe that if everyone who possibly can grow at least some food did that the culture that has fostered such a high level of food waste would begin to shrink and change. Growing food doesn’t have to be hard. Even if all you have is a small balcony you can at least grow a small pot of herbs. I promise, if taken care of, they will be so much better than what could be bought at a store.
If you really can’t grow any of your own food, but you live in an area with a local agriculture community, I highly suggest shopping small. Buying from local growers helps not only uplift them and your community, but it still removes you from the industrial agriculture sphere. Fresh local produce is also often a lot high quality, because it didn’t have to go through the process of harvest, ship, store, and then sell. Produce sold at farmer’s markets has usually been picked within just a few days of it ending up in your hands.
Plain and simple, produce doesn’t have to perfect or even pretty to be edible. My mom (and now myself) grow food throughout the year and never once has all of it been pretty. Most of it likely wouldn’t meet the standard for what can be sold at a grocery store. However, it’s still really good food. We still eat it, because there is nothing really wrong with it! Maybe it’s shaped funny, or maybe it’s a little scuffed up. Maybe the color is not uniform, or maybe it’s a bit small. Whatever the “imperfection” it doesn’t impact our ability to consume it.
The only bar food products should have to meet is being edible and safe. If they can pass those two bars it should be eaten. Food is food and food should be appreciated.