Thursday, October 2, 2014

We should all be foodies

Americans may throw out, uneaten, as much as 25% of the food they buy. Recent data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is even more appalling: about a third of the food available to consumers—this includes both what stores discard unsold and what consumers have bought but do not eat—goes uneaten. This wasted food is worth about $162 billion, an amount that exceeds General Motors' sales for all of 2013.

USDA estimates that of the 133 billion pounds of wasted food, 33% is seafood, 30% roots and tubers, 28% fruits and other vegetables, 27% grain products, 15% milk, and 11% meat.

In Raleigh, the Interfaith Food Shuttle collects food that stores would have otherwise discarded because the items are past their recommended sell by date, have less than a picture perfect appearance, or for another, non-health related reason. The Interfaith Food Shuttle then distributes the food it has collected to food banks, non-profits that feed the hungry, and other organizations working to alleviate hunger.

Those are great efforts. Obeying both Jesus' injunction to feed the hungry and to be good stewards requires that we do more, much more.

First, eat all of the food you buy; don't buy food that you won't eat. Most food that consumers purchase and then waste cannot be donated to anyone else because the food has gone bad while sitting uneaten in a refrigerator or pantry. Not buying that food would have saved the consumer money and, over time, diminish pollution from farming and processing uneaten food. Advance menu planning, minimizing spontaneous buying, and eating in restaurants only as planned in the menu are all ways to avoid food you have bought going uneaten. Agricultural pollution, which includes pesticides, soil erosion, carbon emissions from farm equipment, etc., is a major source of pollution.

Second, support the ministry of groups like the Interfaith Food Shuttle. If your area does not have such an organization, consider founding one. Preventing massive amounts of food from being wasted both feeds the hungry and helps to reduce agricultural pollution.

Third, become a foodie. Good food, well-prepared, and eaten slowly in moderate amounts with friends is one element of living abundantly. Locally sourced food is often fresher, tastier, and may have required less pollution to reach you, e.g., not having been trucked across the country or flown in from another continent.
What opportunity have you missed today to feed the hungry and care for the earth while saving yourself money?

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