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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If You're Wasting, You Shouldn't Be Whinging

There's a little bit of Australian vocab for you - whinging means to whine, complain, protest, etc. Didn't know you were going to learn about food wastage and vocab today, did you?

Anyhow, several factors led to this blog post - first, there was this article from Drover's. I'll be sort-of summarizing it so if you don't want to read a whole article, you can read a whole blog post. You're welcome.

Secondly, this blog post that I wrote on Monday.

Thirdly, this:
A fridge full of leftovers for two people who couldn't possibly eat said leftovers in a normal amount of time before the food will be unappetizing, stinky and/or unpleasurable to the digestive system.

Hence, this post was born.

Food wastage occurs in a lot of different ways. I'm sure you're thinking, "Buzzard, you idiot. Food wastage occurs when good food is thrown away." Idiot, I am not. Food wastage, and this comes from the Drover's article, varies depending on the setting/income level of the country of origin. For example, my trashcan is an example of how food is wasted in a first-world or developed country. Sometimes, I throw away perfectly good green beans. But I am not going to save four or five bites of canned green beans when the Ninja refuses to finish them (he is my human garbage can). I am a human-being, not perfect. Did you know that up to HALF of the food that is purchased in Europe and the US is thrown away? Half, people. One 8 oz sirloin is thrown away for every pound of steak purchased. I am extremely embarrassed of that fact - one in seven people in the world go hungry every night and we are throwing away 1/2 of our food. If you're not embarrassed, you're part of the problem. Don't come whining to me about not being able to afford food if you throw out 1/2 your grocery cart every week.

However, food wastage in Malawi or a similar less than developed country is different because that loss occurs during harvest, when advanced technology isn't available to yield optimum levels. Wastage also occurs through improper storage or unfortunately, the all too common problem of a lack of infrastructure. This means the food is produced but the roads, government etc are so broken down that the food can't get to the people. Very sad. The more the developed the country, the further down the line the wastage occurs. Here, I drew you a picture:

 How about those epic graph drawing skills? Thanks Ag Economics degree, you're coming in handy after all.

The reason this is all very important is of course, that we are projected to have a population of 9.5 billion by 2075. Or if you don't want to look that far into the future, 9 billion by 2050. We are going to need a lot of water, land and other non-renewable resources to feed all these hungry future-people.

Which is where my post from Monday comes in - by cutting down larger cuts of meat we can continue to utilize the efficiency of the beef industry (smaller herds but bigger cattle) without sacrificing any valuable protein to the garbage can. And if science is allowed to prevail and keep making advancements, I believe that the ingenious folks at John Deere, Monsanto, Pioneer etc can find ways to produce more with less.

Of course, it's not just on the shoulders of engineers and beef producers. You, yes you, can help with the whole feed the world mantra. Buying/preparing smaller portions. Saving (and eating) leftovers. Making your kids clean their plates or save their leftovers too (never too young to help the planet). Anyone else have any ideas or suggestions on how to make our food supply more efficient from a consumer stand point?

How's that for tying several different trains of thinking into one post? That was exhausting...

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

p.s. I hope that Jessie Vipham is impressed with my graph and that I have officially kind-of used my Ag Econ degree.

8 comments:

  1. Freeze those left overs you are tired of or know you won't get to! It's great for taking meals to work, frozen meals, that you cooked and actually taste good! I've spent the last few years cooking for one and I will be the first to admit I can't eat an entire pan of lasagna before it gets icky, AND I get tired of eating the same thing over and over to try and get rid of it.

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    1. Great idea. So simple - yet I've never thought about it in terms of my own life. My mom does does.

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  2. I never thought of the freezing aspect! Thanks walk of the k!

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  3. This is a great post, Buzzard! It is very thought provoking and made me think about the ways I can cut down on my household's food wastage.

    I talked to you yesterday about Harvesters, it is a Kansas City food bank that serves 26 area counties. They're doing a lot to feed those in need and they're also assisting with the food wastage problem. Harvesters works with local restaurants, the Royals and Chiefs stadiums to donate and not dump food that has already been cooked. A delivery driver picks up the food each night, then Harvesters finds a way to get it to those who are hungry. Harvesters is also a partner with Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. For more information on what Harvesters does visit their webpage here. http://www.harvesters.org/WhoWeAre/Index.asp?x=020|020&~=

    If Harvesters can feed 5 people for $1, then I think we as individuals can do a little more to help end hunger domestically and cut down on our own food wastage.

    www.borntopharm.blogspot.com

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  4. Great points, MJ! I would like to see more of those type of programs popping up in rural areas. Hungry people don't just live in the cities, they are present in non-metro areas too!

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  5. Impressive chart—I was instantly tossed back to my intro AGECON class! Its mind-blowing the amount of food waste going on in the United States and not sure how to solve this problem. I think portion size has a lot to do with it and knowing how long the shelf life of produce is would be a big help for some people.

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  6. Brandi, Harvesters and other food banks, like the one I work for, do work in small communities. There are 205 food banks across the country as a part of Feeding America, as Melissa said. Rural hunger is a major problem in country. 1 in 6 people are hungry. The USDA released in 2008 information about food deserts, and the majority of those are located in rural areas. It's not a matter of a shortage, but like you said, a waste of food. My role in food acquisition at the food bank is to help ensure that product that would be otherwise thrown away at restaurants, food manufacturers, retail stores, producers, farmers, etc., comes into our distribution warehouse and then is distributed by our food bank to our partner agencies, many of which make up the church pantries in rural towns. In fact, we were the first food bank to open the nonprofit grocery store model. t specifically addresses the issue of food deserts and access to food for those in rural areas. http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/state/missouri/nonprofit-grocery-store-opens-in-missouri

    I'd be happy to speak on the topic sometime, but know this in our 19-county service area alone, we serve 15,000 people each week. The need is 52,000 people. We have a lot of work to do in this country to ensure more food is not wasted. This topic is near and dear to me so I thought I'd chime in.

    http://chroniclesofawildcat-melissa.blogspot.com/

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  7. Melissa - sounds like you've got a great thing going! Thanks for commenting!

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