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From Mother Jones:
“According to the report [by a British engineering firm], developing countries, including India, China, and Vietnam, don’t have the infrastructure to stop food from rotting. But that doesn’t mean that Americans are off the hook: Developed societies tend to waste food on the consumer end of the chain, because it doesn’t meet cosmetic standards (i.e., the tomatoes aren’t pretty enough for your local supermarket) and also because consumers and supermarkets are throwing away perfectly good food, largely because of conservative ‘use-by’ labels.”
It’s no secret that Western culture is aesthetics driven. Admittedly, I didn’t pick an odd shaped bell pepper once because I wasn’t sure how to julienne it — pure laziness on my part. [Note: I did buy an weird looking lemon once only because it was shaped like a butt. At the time I thought it was hilarious because, you know, I’m five.]
There are some great documentaries and articles on food waste out there that have talked about cosmetic standards of supermarkets and also the strict FDA regulated use-by labels. It’s definitely eye opening when you learn about how much food is wasted and if/how it can be prevented or minimized. Now, I don’t know how supermarkets and grocery stores run and how the business works but I wondered if it was possible for the in-store delis to run the way restaurants do when it comes to minimizing food waste. In the restaurant industry, the ugly looking things become something else because it saves the restaurant money. Ugly cauliflowers become soup, dinged up lemons become lemon juice…you get the idea. Could they possibly do the same thing with the “ugly” produce or the foods that are on the verge of expiration? According to Peter Lehner at Natural Resources Defense Council, most of the deli food prep is done off site and having it on-site is a complex and costly issue. So that’s a “no.” Now what?
The “good” thing about all this food waste is that Forbes is predicting the rise of green tech companies that are trying to find solutions to some of these problems. Go buy some green tech stock while it’s hot! [Don’t listen to me for stock advice.]