Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 pm
by Jeremy Seifert
Americans waste half the food produced for consumption, which works out to a cost of more than $100 billion each year. Couple that with the rising price of food, the inability for many people to get enough to eat every day, and the environmental cost of producing so much food using chemical inputs that kill the soil and poison the groundwater, and it becomes clear that our food system is far from sustainable. American grocery stores routinely fill their dumpsters with food. The food isn’t necessarily rotten or spoiled, much of it is perfectly good, edible food. Trader Joes, Safeway, Whole Foods, Vons, and others throw away good food usually the day before an expiration date. Often these dates are suggestions and does not necessarily mean that the food is bad on that date. The Department of Agriculture once estimated that recovering just 5% of the food that is wasted could feed four million people a day; recovering 25% would feed 20 million people. Today we recover less than 2.5%. While individual Americans throw away a large percentage of that after buying the food and bringing it home to their refrigerator, a frightening amount ends up being tossed by grocery stores before it can be purchased. This comes at an enormously high social, environmental, and financial cost — the economy is struggling, 49 million Americans are food insecure, and climate change is rapidly intensifying. Food waste squanders water, depletes soil, wastes fossil fuels, adds greatly to the world’s carbon footprint, and costs more than $100 billion each year. Food is the single largest component of solid waste in municipal landfills and incinerators in the United States. Rotting food creates methane, which is 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. When the resources used to grow, process, and transport food are considered, wasted food represents 25% of freshwater use, 4% of oil use, and 23% of all methane emissions in the U.S. In this shocking film, Director Jeremy Seifert and his friends practice dumpster diving in the dumpsters of supermarkets in and around L.A., rescuing some of this wasted resource, and raising awareness of the boondoggle that is America’s food waste problem. What do you think about this? Would you ever consider eating food scavenged from a dumpster?
What to do about so much food waste! Jeremy says we should question the manager at our supermarket, learn about food waste and its role in our communities, perhaps even go for a dive in our local grocery store’s dumpster, either for ourselves, or for those in need. For Jeremy, an important first step to really caring about the issue of food waste was hopping in a dumpster, bringing home the food, and eating it. Eating trash is a subversive act. It goes against our culture of over-consumption and gratuitous wastefulness. Also, it’s important to go to your local grocery store and ask what they do with their food waste. They might not tell you. Or they’ll dodge the question by listing organizations to which they donate. Ask them about all the FRESH food — meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. Ask them if they would be open to allowing you to pick this food up and bring it to a nonprofit that serves the needy. This all needs to be done with a pleasant tone, big smile, and servant’s heart!
This film is brought to us by Dana Frasz, Founder and Director of Food Shift. Food Shift is an Earth Island Institute sponsored project dedicated to building a more just and sustainable food system that curbs waste, empowers communities, respects the environment, and nourishes all people. Food Shift educates and empowers consumers, businesses, and communities by increasing awareness about food waste and inspiring food-related behavior change. By trimming our waste and diverting food loss, we can feed the hungry, create jobs, combat climate change, conserve natural resources, and cultivate more sustainable communities. Please join us to see the film and participate in discussions facilitated by Dana Frasz.
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