Waste Not, Want Not

Why an Increase in Food Waste is Decreasing our Key Resources

It’s a typical Saturday night at our downtown restaurant. I stand behind the bar, gazing out over the restaurant floor as the staff frantically zips around in a dance of con- trolled chaos. Meanwhile, the guests are focused on the plates before them — locally farmed ingredients that are artfully crafted into entrées upward of $30. Yet, despite the price, many of them won’t finish their plates, and even fewer will take their leftovers home with them.

In fact, more times than not, I find myself carrying half-full plates to the garbage in the back. The remaining food is quickly scooped off without a second thought, where it will add to the increasing amount of edibles squandered in this country.

As a society, we are wasteful. Actually, we are very wasteful. Ac- cording to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, we throw away close to 40 percent of our entire food supply. What does that amount to, exactly? Picture the Rose Bowl, a 90,000-seat stadium in Southern California. Now, visualize it filled to the brim with food — we throw away that much every single day. What’s worse is that this number is nearly 50 percent more than it was 40 years ago, and it continues to grow.

It’s not that we, as a society, are intentionally wasteful. But when buying food, whether it’s at the grocery store or a restaurant, we focus on its pricing as we marginalize it into a percentage of what we can afford. So, when that head of broccoli doesn’t get cooked or the chicken breasts start to smell foul or our leftovers get pushed to the back of the fridge, we chalk it up to a few dollars lost. Our wallets will recover, right? But what we fail to realize is the full monetary cost of food waste, which adds up to a whopping 165 billion dollars. Annually.
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