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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Reducing food waste a first step to fight poverty, climate change

    A few days ago, I ate four bananas in one sitting because I was worried that by the next day they would be brown and mushy, and I would lose out on both the bananas and the money and time I spent procuring them. Although I thankfully don’t count myself among the high number — nearly 60 percent — of college students who deal with food insecurity, I worry about food waste and actively try to combat it.

    According to The Global Scientist, “Food waste is one of the most important environmental challenges we currently face. Because of this, the 2013 UN World Environment Day theme was food waste and reducing your foodprint.”

    Reducing your foodprint, like reducing your carbon footprint, is just a part of being a socially and environmentally conscious human.

    Every year, between 30-40 percent of food is wasted from “farm to fork,” and that number, especially when applied globally, is shocking. This waste starts at the source and is exacerbated in the homes of consumers.

    Finishing meals is important, even if you sometimes bite off more than you can chew. This can be quite an issue, however, when people only shop every other week because they can’t find the time to buy produce more often, and therefore end up eating large quantities of one thing just to get rid of it.

    I admit that I’m a bit of a hypocrite. While I make an effort to effectively coupon, plan my shopping trips efficiently and purchase products in the least packaging, I often shop whilst hungry. This is an epidemic, I’m sure, amongst adult Americans, leading to thousands of packages of flavor-blasted goldfish being purchased among groups of other unsustainable, heavily-packaged and hard-to-finish goods.

    Alexandra Heeney of “The Global Scientist,” notes a not-so-surprising trend progressing: “In countries like the U.S. and the U.K., we are making fewer and fewer trips to grocery stores each year, which results in more food waste: the more frequently you shop, the better you plan, the less food you buy that’s likely to go uneaten.”

    These lessened trips mean larger purchases and ultimately a larger amount of food thrown out when it is forgotten. And while it is ideal to consider more efficiently-planned and frequent trips to the grocery store as a solution to the problem of food waste, it isn’t so easy.

    Reducing food waste is a systematic issue that must be targeted on many fronts by producers, retailers and consumers. Telling grocery stores to encourage consumers to buy food near its expiration rate reduces food waste on the end of the retailer but merely passes it to the consumer. This is an issue that requires attention and widespread effort to be combatted.

    Berkley Harris, lead board member for the UA Campus Pantry, said that even the smallest effort towards consciousness and prevention helps.

    “The individual definitely has a big impact on the issue of food waste,” Harris said. “Although it is a global issue, realistic solutions start with the individual. Being conscious is a start. This issue is not only an environmental issue, but a social issue. Millions of people go without food every day and hundreds in Tucson go hungry — the food one person wastes could change someone else’s life. That food can be donated to a nearby shelter or food bank.”

    So make an effort to not pour that half-gallon of milk down the sink, because it’s not only irresponsible for the environment but also for your wallet and your conscience.

    Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter @NiHavey

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