Wednesday, July 13, 2016

News You Can't Use: Half of all US Food Produce is Thrown Away, New Research Suggests

Trends come and go, but wasting food is something that is always at the bleeding edge of what is considered "with it" or "23 skiddoo," if you will. And there's no food more deserving of being wasted than vegetables, natures cruel joke on our taste-buds and internal digestive systems. With ideas about cleaning the old plate to broom the stomach correctly held in derision by picky eaters everywhere it's perhaps a fitting irony that the current piles of rotting Michelle Obama lunch waste is actually being caused by the tiny and hated minority that, for whatever reason, likes broccoli.

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

You Americans and your perfectionism, as demonstrated by your intellectual rigor and svelte belt-lines. Because of the demands for the elusive perfect radish (real radishes, who a man like you couldn't handle by the way, are misshapen and covered in spots) we're somehow causing world hunger, making people poor and destroying our environment with compost piles, the natural enemy of all plant life.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

I  blame Hollywood and the media for created an impossible standard of vegetable beauty that fails to recognize that all produce is uniquely beautiful and special and certainly doesn't need to change for a brute like you as it's taken from the field straight to the landfill. Also, someone is going around interviewing truckers about vegetable waste. Really. "Yeah, foughettaboutit, I dumped all that cauliflower in the gutter and spend the rest of the day leaning against my truck and making threatening and/or lecherous faces at passerby."

“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”

Just take this jet-black banana that's currently dripping foul liquids and eat it. I don't think that's asking too much. Think of Ray-Jay Johnson and his North Cakalaki shipping concern next time, so you can attach a face and annoying comedy act to the damage your selfishness is causing.

Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.

And yet, in a highly magnanimous display, the ordinary consumer gets blamed.

By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year - one third of all foodstuffs.

Love those wacky non-metric measures. We're talking 60m rands of green sludge, worth 160bn Imperial Ducats, wasted every year.

“I would say at times there is 25% of the crop that is just thrown away or fed to cattle,” said Wayde Kirschenman, whose family has been growing potatoes and other vegetables near Bakersfield, California, since the 1930s. “Sometimes it can be worse.”

I'd propose a solution, but there really isn't one and we're just wasting our time here.

Then they're going to throw me away or send me to a landfill...OH MY GOD!!!!

Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. 

Parsnips that refused to take a loyalty oath were lined up against walls and shot.

In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.

You can make your own joke, I'm not touching this one.

Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service for “ugly” food in the San Francisco Bay area, estimates that about one-fifth of all fruit and vegetables are consigned to the dump because they do not conform to the industry standard of perfection.

Imperfect Produce, when you care enough to feed your family food that isn't considered adequate animal fodder.

That lost food is seen increasingly as a drag on household incomes – about $1,600 a year for a family of four – and a direct challenge to global efforts to fight hunger, poverty and climate change.

We also have on good authority this caused Donald Trump.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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