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Nonfiction in response to Responsible Consumption and Production
December 2018

All You Can Eat

By Kelsey Cashman

Imagine piles and piles of leftover food, stretching out as far as you can see. Uneaten food, food from restaurants and cafeterias, or from a family making a little too much for dinner. Food gone rotten on the way to the store and thrown out upon arrival. All the food you can think of, just lying there going to waste, feeding no one.

Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted, and that number is projected to increase a third by 2030. In poor countries this food is lost on the way to the markets. Due to lack of refrigeration and efficient transportation, food rots before it even reaches the shelves. However, according to The New York Times, in first world countries 40% of food is thrown out by consumers, after it has been taken from the markets. Because they have more money, conserving food has become less important. People buy and make more than they need, and then end up throwing away the leftovers. According to Food Forward, the amount of food wasted every day in the United States is enough to fill a college football stadium. The annual cost of this food waste in the United States alone is $160 billion, says the New York Times. The outrageous amount of waste is made even worse, however, by the amount of people who are starving despite all this leftover food.


Despite the amount of food thrown away and wasted, there are 815 million people who do not have enough food, who have to live with the gnawing pain of hunger every day. In third world countries, 25% of people are undernourished. But the amount of food wasted every year is enough to feed two billion people, more than twice the amount of people who are starving. In the United States, 40% of food goes to waste, while 1 in 8 Americans don’t have enough food to fill their stomachs. By reducing the amount of food waste, by focusing on responsible consumption of food, we can begin to close this gap.


Around the world, people have begun to take steps to improve the issue of food waste. In third world countries, technology has been introduced to prevent the rotting of food before it reaches the market. For example,  metal grain silos are now being used in some African countries to prevent fungus from ruining the grain. Also, farmers in India are beginning to package tomatoes in plastic crates instead of sacks, decreasing the amount of squished and rotten tomatoes that have to be thrown away. Steps are also being taken to prevent waste in countries where most waste occurs after the food has left the market. Supermarkets are changing the system of best-before labels to prevent food being thrown out when it is still good to eat. Some restaurants and retailers donate leftover food to those in need. As individuals, we can  take steps to end this outrageous waste of food. We can stop buying and making more than we need, and we can package any leftover food instead of sending it down the garbage disposal. We can encourage local restaurants and grocery stores to donate any good food leftover after closing to the food bank or local homeless shelters. And in time, we can lower the 1.3 billion tons of wasted food, using it to help feed the 815 million people who go hungry every day.     



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