This is a topic that has come up a couple of times in class. I stumbled across a video of a man who researched how much food countries waste throughout the market process. Give this a quick view before going on to my post…I’ll wait…
This is a serious problem, as the video points out. The question then is what should be done about this? Should the government interfere? Should people make a shift in their habits to promote responsible food usage? Should we care so long as our country is doing fine?
I don’t know that there is one solution, so feel free to comment with your own thoughts. But I do want to at least give a couple of my thoughts.
Should the government interfere?
Well, they already are. In the U.S. our government subsidizes farmers on even the most basic food levels (corn, soy, wheat). Furthermore, as the video points out (he was referencing English law, but America has comparable laws) that livestock farmers have to give their animals FDA/USDA approved feed. My grandfather and his children are farmers. They used to grow corn and soy beans as well as raised chickens, pigs, and cows. They grew their own feed as well as sold the extra to granaries and sold their livestock when the time came to it. Eventually they had to give this up because of government regulation.
Even today a simpler system could be established. Due to production methods, farmers have become less diverse in what they raise, but why not have the corn farmer sell some of his product to the pig farmer next door? It’s not as though the farmers live in different areas. Today, a corn farmer sells his corn to an elevator and they sell the corn to many different buyers, including feed manufacturers. Then the feed manufacturers make their feed and sell it to distributors who sell it to the pig farmer. Ironically corn grown in Iowa is consumed by pigs in Ohio – and you wonder why ground beef costs nearly $3/lb.
I’m not saying the “neighborly trade” system would exhaustively cure the problem, but I certainly think it would help. Governmental intrusion has a lot of unintended consequences. Perhaps legislation to counter the food waste problem would be to fine companies that throw away edible food. That could result in bad food getting sold (because a store was scared to throw it away and face a fine) and people getting sick. Thank goodness the government will pay for our health bill, though! -_-
If I’m not starving, why should I care?
I kind of see where this argument comes from. After all, is it a pressing concern for us that there are tons of food wasted each minute? Nope. The reality is we don’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. I know, it’s a cliche that is way too used, but it’s a valid point. However I’m going to remind us all of things we all know that will hopefully make you at least consider making a personal change.
As Christians, we’ve been called to be stewards of this earth. That means we are to make proper use of the planet and of the things God has created. This is a duty and a responsibility, not just an honor. That implies we actually have to do some work in this area. A large percentage of this food waste is beyond your personal control so the temptation to say “I don’t control government regulation or supermarket policy” is pretty strong. But you are a consumer. You get to voice your opinion with your spending habits.
How many of us have thrown away fruit or vegetables that have gone bad? How often do we throw away extra food after a dinner? You then go to the store to buy more food, a portion of which you will throw away.
When you do this, you signal to the market “I will buy x amount of foods.” You also tell the store what type of food you will buy (apples that are perfect in shape and color, for example). Store react to that. They set out enough food to satiate your buying pattern. They will tell producers they demand an unnecessarily high standard for the food coming into the store. They will also pack their shelves full because research has shown people will buy more when there is more in front of them.
Don’t forget that you do have a voice to these corporations and to the government. Yes, you are only one person which is a drop in the bucket, but your actions can influence many more people – I’ve just reached at least eight with this post.
At the end of the day, I think this is a change that needs to happen at the grassroots level. It’s a matter of our community, of our society. What do we want to see done in our neighborhoods that promote responsible living? A government can’t effectively force you to do this. But if a sentiment spreads across a community of stewardship and appreciating the bounty of this earth, there is a chance for real change to happen.