We waste 40% of our food

Our food supply is so cheap and abundant that we can afford to throw 40% of it away.   Then again, it’s not so cheap and abundant everywhere and for everyone.

Each year, about 40 percent of all food in the United States goes uneaten. It’s just tossed out or left to rot. And that’s a fairly large waste of resources. All that freshwater and land, all that fertilizer and energy — for nothing. By one recent estimate, Americans are squandering the equivalent of $165 billion each year by rubbishing so much food. . . .

1) Farming: Roughly 7 percent of the produce that’s grown in the United States simply gets stranded on fields each year. Some growers plant more crops than there’s demand for, to hedge against disease and weather. Some produce goes unpicked because it doesn’t meet standards for shape and color. At times, perfectly fine crops go unharvested after food-safety scares, such as the FDA’s salmonella warning in 2008. Fluctuating immigration laws in states like Georgia can also create shortages of farmworkers, which can leave food unpicked.

2) Post-harvest and packing: After crops have been gathered from the fields, farmers tend to cull produce to make sure it meets minimum standards for size, color, and weight. “One large cucumber farmer,” the NRDC report notes, “estimated that fewer than half the vegetables he grows actually leave his farm and that 75 percent of the cucumbers culled before sale are edible.” If there’s a culprit here, it’s our high aesthetic standards for food.

3) Processing and distribution: Plenty of food gets trimmed in the manufacturing stage, though much of it is inedible anyway. Still, there’s also a fair bit of avoidable waste. Technical malfunctions in processing and refrigeration are one big factor. Food can sometimes sit too long at improper temperatures and spoil. Another issue is that stores often reject shipments — and it’s often difficult for distributors to find a new taker. After all, it’s not as if food banks can always find a home for a truckload of rejected beets.

4) Retail and grocery stores: Grocery stores are another huge source of rubbished food — with the USDA estimating that supermarkets toss out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year. But waste is also seen as the cost of doing business. Stores would rather overstock their shelves and throw out the remainder than look empty. Supermarkets will also winnow out produce that’s in subpar condition, since few shoppers want to buy an apple that’s all bruised up.

There’s also the issue of “sell by” expiration dates. The report cites one industry estimate that each store throws out, on average, $2,300 worth of food each day because the products have neared their expiration date. Yet most of this food is still edible. In many states, it’s still perfectly legal to sell food past its expiration date. Many stores would just prefer not to — it looks bad. “Most stores, in fact, pull items 2 to 3 days before the sell-by date,” the NRDC report observes.

5) Food service and restaurants: About of all wasted food comes from households and food-service establishments. In restaurants, a good chunk of food is lost in the kitchen. And, on average, diners leave about 17 percent of their food uneaten. The report notes that portion sizes are a big reason for this, as portions have ballooned in the past 30 years. Restaurants also try to keep more food than they need on hand to make sure that everything on the menu is available. What’s more, chain restaurants have inflexible rules that require perfectly good food to be tossed. McDonald’s, for instance, requires fries to be thrown out after seven minutes. About one-tenth of fast food gets junked this way.

6) Households: This appears to be the big one. According to various estimates, American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. This can cost the average family between $1,365 to $2,275 annually. A big factor here, the NRDC report notes, is that food has become so cheap and readily available. So, most people reason, what’s the big deal if some of it gets tossed? The report also notes there’s a great deal of confusion around expiration labels, which tend to be confusing and often prompt people to throw out food prematurely. (The British government has recently moved to revise these standards to make them less perplexing.)

7) Disposal: Not all discarded food is equal. The report estimates that only 3 percent of thrown-out food in the United States is composted. Most end up in landfills, where they decompose and release methane, a powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas. In fact, about 23 percent of U.S. methane emissions comes from landfill food. Composting or even technologies to capture methane could reduce that.

via How the U.S. manages to waste $165 billion in food each year.

Is our practice of wasting so much food a sign of prosperity or decadence?  abundance or irresponsibility?  Wasting things has always been seen as a vice.  What if that 40% were put to use?  If vegetables aren’t pretty enough for the grocery shelves, maybe we could at least make ethanol or something out of them!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    It is what it is.

    Seriously, on #7, there are places that take landfills and harness the methane for power, because methane can be burned as a natural gas. I think GE does this. So food “waste” could be a win-win for everybody.

    But to be honest, I’m skeptical of studies like this because they often don’t tell the whole story. An example of this is #5: the reason why McDs throws out fries every seven minutes is because 1.) Fries can get pretty stale after being under a warmer for too long, 2.) McDs knows that employees will not always be good about following that seven minute deadline to a T, and therefore they have to put it at seven minutes, 3.) McDs is usually busy enough that this rule doesn’t need to be followed, as sales of fries are quite high, and 4.) McDs knows that any potential excuse for food poisoning can and will be laid at their feet because they are a large corporation, and they do not want to give any unscrupulous customers any excuse to come back and say that they became ill after ingesting their food.

    Furthermore, regarding #6, whether or not there is confusion about expiration labels, I fail to see how throwing out expired food is “wasteful.” Is the author suggesting we risk food poisoning by consuming bad food?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    It is what it is.

    Seriously, on #7, there are places that take landfills and harness the methane for power, because methane can be burned as a natural gas. I think GE does this. So food “waste” could be a win-win for everybody.

    But to be honest, I’m skeptical of studies like this because they often don’t tell the whole story. An example of this is #5: the reason why McDs throws out fries every seven minutes is because 1.) Fries can get pretty stale after being under a warmer for too long, 2.) McDs knows that employees will not always be good about following that seven minute deadline to a T, and therefore they have to put it at seven minutes, 3.) McDs is usually busy enough that this rule doesn’t need to be followed, as sales of fries are quite high, and 4.) McDs knows that any potential excuse for food poisoning can and will be laid at their feet because they are a large corporation, and they do not want to give any unscrupulous customers any excuse to come back and say that they became ill after ingesting their food.

    Furthermore, regarding #6, whether or not there is confusion about expiration labels, I fail to see how throwing out expired food is “wasteful.” Is the author suggesting we risk food poisoning by consuming bad food?

  • SteveD

    First of all, expiration dates are stamped to cover food retailers’ butts if someone gets sick from their food. Milk stamped with a date is generally good for another 3-7 days after the date, longer if it’s unopened. The problem is that most people don’t know how to tell if a food is spoiled or not, so they trust the date and pitch perfectly good food.

    As far as vegetable waste from the grocery stores, if they composted all of that waste behind the store, they could make a decent penny selling it to gardeners and green houses. They wouldn’t recoup all of their costs, but at least there would be a productive use for the waste.

    Food services could donate food to the local soup kitchen/homeless shelter. I worked at a place that had a breakfast buffet – when the buffet closed down, all the food was trashed – good, hot, fresh food right into the dumpster. Have a local food bank out back when the buffet closes and you can feed a fair amount of hungry people within an hour or so, plus most of it could have been fridged or frozen for leftovers.

    I think the problem is laziness – composting takes a few more steps than throwing something in a trash can – along with our penchant for excess. Like the Romans of old, if we have too much of something, we think it’s a sign of our wealth and prosperity rather than something we can use to help others.

  • SteveD

    First of all, expiration dates are stamped to cover food retailers’ butts if someone gets sick from their food. Milk stamped with a date is generally good for another 3-7 days after the date, longer if it’s unopened. The problem is that most people don’t know how to tell if a food is spoiled or not, so they trust the date and pitch perfectly good food.

    As far as vegetable waste from the grocery stores, if they composted all of that waste behind the store, they could make a decent penny selling it to gardeners and green houses. They wouldn’t recoup all of their costs, but at least there would be a productive use for the waste.

    Food services could donate food to the local soup kitchen/homeless shelter. I worked at a place that had a breakfast buffet – when the buffet closed down, all the food was trashed – good, hot, fresh food right into the dumpster. Have a local food bank out back when the buffet closes and you can feed a fair amount of hungry people within an hour or so, plus most of it could have been fridged or frozen for leftovers.

    I think the problem is laziness – composting takes a few more steps than throwing something in a trash can – along with our penchant for excess. Like the Romans of old, if we have too much of something, we think it’s a sign of our wealth and prosperity rather than something we can use to help others.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    There are some legitimate issues here like poor household planning resulting in throwing out so much unused food. But others…

    If farmers plant more than they need as a hedge against disease and weather, then it’s not a waste even if it doesn’t get eaten–it functions as a hedge against disease and weather. It’s not like that’s a fake concern. And equipment malfunctions? Seriously? What’s the solution, making perfect equipment that never malfunctions?

    If someone has legitimate ideas for making use of the food that isn’t used, that’s great. But simply complaining at the lack of perfection in human endeavor is silly. There is such a thing as letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    There are some legitimate issues here like poor household planning resulting in throwing out so much unused food. But others…

    If farmers plant more than they need as a hedge against disease and weather, then it’s not a waste even if it doesn’t get eaten–it functions as a hedge against disease and weather. It’s not like that’s a fake concern. And equipment malfunctions? Seriously? What’s the solution, making perfect equipment that never malfunctions?

    If someone has legitimate ideas for making use of the food that isn’t used, that’s great. But simply complaining at the lack of perfection in human endeavor is silly. There is such a thing as letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

  • http://www.fencepostblog.com Dan Kassis

    We composted our unused vegetable & fruit matter when we lived in California, and I started again last summer. It’s amazing how much material a small composting bin can handle. Even with a family of 5 I haven’t been able to fill it up yet because it decomposes so quickly. And that includes clippings from shrubs and other plants from my yard. I even put in 3 bags of my neighbor’s leaves last fall and I still can’t fill it up. It’s a great way to reduce your garbage load, keep stuff out of your sink disposal, and get the benifit of your unused food into your garden. I’m going to replant some perennials this fall and I plan to use the first of my compost in the bedding. Another benifit is that it gives you a visual reminder of how much you’re wasting.

  • http://www.fencepostblog.com Dan Kassis

    We composted our unused vegetable & fruit matter when we lived in California, and I started again last summer. It’s amazing how much material a small composting bin can handle. Even with a family of 5 I haven’t been able to fill it up yet because it decomposes so quickly. And that includes clippings from shrubs and other plants from my yard. I even put in 3 bags of my neighbor’s leaves last fall and I still can’t fill it up. It’s a great way to reduce your garbage load, keep stuff out of your sink disposal, and get the benifit of your unused food into your garden. I’m going to replant some perennials this fall and I plan to use the first of my compost in the bedding. Another benifit is that it gives you a visual reminder of how much you’re wasting.

  • Orianna Laun

    This is a side effect of being disconnected from food production in a technological age. Why did our farming grandmas and great grandmas can? The food was harder to come by, and they knew how much work went into producing it.
    I have heard that looks of produce are important. Another blogger had an article which said that when researchers and scientists worked to make the tomatoes the nice shade of red the consumers expected, it shut down another gene that controlled flavor. If this is indeed true, it seems to demonstrate that the looks are important.
    I can see the loss of food in production, but the pink slime is now verboten, so add it to the pile of waste. Some communities have restrictions on composting, and there are laws about restaurants donating food. Where does one balance protecting people from food-borne illness with being good stewards? Panera and Einstein Brothers donate their baked goods at the end of the day, and other places do too.
    It’s somewhat sad that we throw away so much food and obesity is still on the rise.

  • Orianna Laun

    This is a side effect of being disconnected from food production in a technological age. Why did our farming grandmas and great grandmas can? The food was harder to come by, and they knew how much work went into producing it.
    I have heard that looks of produce are important. Another blogger had an article which said that when researchers and scientists worked to make the tomatoes the nice shade of red the consumers expected, it shut down another gene that controlled flavor. If this is indeed true, it seems to demonstrate that the looks are important.
    I can see the loss of food in production, but the pink slime is now verboten, so add it to the pile of waste. Some communities have restrictions on composting, and there are laws about restaurants donating food. Where does one balance protecting people from food-borne illness with being good stewards? Panera and Einstein Brothers donate their baked goods at the end of the day, and other places do too.
    It’s somewhat sad that we throw away so much food and obesity is still on the rise.

  • Random Lutheran

    So much of what is wasted would not be if we didn’t rely on grains so much (which are likely quite harmful and not particularly nutritious (there are plenty of other, similarly-focused resources out there than these), with the only real advantage of them being a supply of cheap calories, which has made them popular over the centuries). If we cut out the grains, plus the sugars with which we load up the grains, we would be in a far better position as a nation health-wise (notice how obesity has only gone up since the food pyramid, with grains at the base, was introduced and used as a guide by many), and would waste far, far less than we do. Eat lots of veggies (ever notice how many vegetarians are closer to being grainitarians?). Eat meat (including the organs & use the bones). Eat fats rather than oils. Waste not, want not.

  • Random Lutheran

    So much of what is wasted would not be if we didn’t rely on grains so much (which are likely quite harmful and not particularly nutritious (there are plenty of other, similarly-focused resources out there than these), with the only real advantage of them being a supply of cheap calories, which has made them popular over the centuries). If we cut out the grains, plus the sugars with which we load up the grains, we would be in a far better position as a nation health-wise (notice how obesity has only gone up since the food pyramid, with grains at the base, was introduced and used as a guide by many), and would waste far, far less than we do. Eat lots of veggies (ever notice how many vegetarians are closer to being grainitarians?). Eat meat (including the organs & use the bones). Eat fats rather than oils. Waste not, want not.

  • SKPeterson

    Reason #2 – High aesthetic standards is a bogus claim. Those standards are set by government-endorsed commissions set up way back in the old “man of the people” FDR days, to restrict agricultural production by only allowing fruits and vegetables of a certain size or color to be brought to market. That way prices can be set higher than they otherwise would be and farmers will be on the road to financial independence and they won’t need subsidies anyhow after a few years. I mean decades. No wait, centuries. After a few centuries of subsidies, forced crop destruction, an price guarantees, then, then farmers will be able to stand up on their own two feet and engage in the free market like the rest of the country.

    Producers who do not cull their harvest can be prosecuted and fined for selling “substandard” produce. If you’re lucky enough to be able to send it to the hog farm down the road great, but often times it just rots in the field. Farmers may be able to get around it by allowing people to come out and “pick your own,” but that is only going to be available to a few people.

  • SKPeterson

    Reason #2 – High aesthetic standards is a bogus claim. Those standards are set by government-endorsed commissions set up way back in the old “man of the people” FDR days, to restrict agricultural production by only allowing fruits and vegetables of a certain size or color to be brought to market. That way prices can be set higher than they otherwise would be and farmers will be on the road to financial independence and they won’t need subsidies anyhow after a few years. I mean decades. No wait, centuries. After a few centuries of subsidies, forced crop destruction, an price guarantees, then, then farmers will be able to stand up on their own two feet and engage in the free market like the rest of the country.

    Producers who do not cull their harvest can be prosecuted and fined for selling “substandard” produce. If you’re lucky enough to be able to send it to the hog farm down the road great, but often times it just rots in the field. Farmers may be able to get around it by allowing people to come out and “pick your own,” but that is only going to be available to a few people.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I think it is a sign of both prosperity and decadence. Unfortunately those two things all too often seem to go hand in hand.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I think it is a sign of both prosperity and decadence. Unfortunately those two things all too often seem to go hand in hand.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    @5, ditto. Being disconnected from our food production is a primary (although certainly not the only) reason for our profound wastefulness. As Orianna indicated, I think we are much more prone to waste things that we haven’t worked hard for.
    Furthermore, there are two levels of waste here: (1) the more obvious waste of unused (and uncomposted) food and (2) the less obvious waste of excessive transportation costs. Consider the energy return of shipping a truckload of lettuce from California to New York. Romaine lettuce contains 80 kcal/lb, whereas diesel fuel contains 35000 kcal/gal. Assuming a produce truck loaded with 30,000 lb of Romaine (I have no idea if they could even get that much on!) gets 6mi/gal on the 3000 mi trip, it would use approximately 500 gal of diesel. Put in energy comparable terms, it would take 17.5 million kcal of diesel to transport 2.5 million kcal of lettuce. (And I think my numbers were generous towards the lettuce!)

    The good news is that in many places in our country, you can still locally source most, if not all of your food. Where I am in semi-rural Missouri, I’ve found farmers who are more than happy to supply directly to the consumer. I butcher my own hogs, get milk from the local Mennonite dairy, buy eggs from one of my parishoners, buy most of my fruit from a local (Lutheran-owned!) orchard, contract with a local farmer for wheat, brew my own beer, and grow as many of my own vegetables as a I can. Sure, I realize that not everyone has their own Mennonite dairy ten miles down the road, but there are farmers’ markets practically everywhere, and for those who are willing to put in the work, there are local options almost everywhere.

    Is it cheap? No. Oh, sure, my food budget is very modest, but it’s a lot of hard work to can three bushels of apples or to make bread from scratch every week. Cost is far more than the number at the bottom of your receipt. My food is expensive because I know (and share) in the work that goes into it.

    And why shouldn’t food be expensive? It’s the very stuff of life. If we’re building a house, we’re concerned about the quality of materials that the builder uses, so how much more should we be concerned with the quality of materials that go into our body? I think it’s imperative that we recognize the cost of food–not its capacity to drain our wallet, but its capacity to sustain our life.

    I think I’m starting to channel Wendell Berry. :)

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    @5, ditto. Being disconnected from our food production is a primary (although certainly not the only) reason for our profound wastefulness. As Orianna indicated, I think we are much more prone to waste things that we haven’t worked hard for.
    Furthermore, there are two levels of waste here: (1) the more obvious waste of unused (and uncomposted) food and (2) the less obvious waste of excessive transportation costs. Consider the energy return of shipping a truckload of lettuce from California to New York. Romaine lettuce contains 80 kcal/lb, whereas diesel fuel contains 35000 kcal/gal. Assuming a produce truck loaded with 30,000 lb of Romaine (I have no idea if they could even get that much on!) gets 6mi/gal on the 3000 mi trip, it would use approximately 500 gal of diesel. Put in energy comparable terms, it would take 17.5 million kcal of diesel to transport 2.5 million kcal of lettuce. (And I think my numbers were generous towards the lettuce!)

    The good news is that in many places in our country, you can still locally source most, if not all of your food. Where I am in semi-rural Missouri, I’ve found farmers who are more than happy to supply directly to the consumer. I butcher my own hogs, get milk from the local Mennonite dairy, buy eggs from one of my parishoners, buy most of my fruit from a local (Lutheran-owned!) orchard, contract with a local farmer for wheat, brew my own beer, and grow as many of my own vegetables as a I can. Sure, I realize that not everyone has their own Mennonite dairy ten miles down the road, but there are farmers’ markets practically everywhere, and for those who are willing to put in the work, there are local options almost everywhere.

    Is it cheap? No. Oh, sure, my food budget is very modest, but it’s a lot of hard work to can three bushels of apples or to make bread from scratch every week. Cost is far more than the number at the bottom of your receipt. My food is expensive because I know (and share) in the work that goes into it.

    And why shouldn’t food be expensive? It’s the very stuff of life. If we’re building a house, we’re concerned about the quality of materials that the builder uses, so how much more should we be concerned with the quality of materials that go into our body? I think it’s imperative that we recognize the cost of food–not its capacity to drain our wallet, but its capacity to sustain our life.

    I think I’m starting to channel Wendell Berry. :)

  • Jon

    What was it our parents used to say to us at the dinner table?

    “Janey, eat your food! There are starving kids in [ __insert country of your choice___] who would love to eat your [___insert food item here]!”

  • Jon

    What was it our parents used to say to us at the dinner table?

    “Janey, eat your food! There are starving kids in [ __insert country of your choice___] who would love to eat your [___insert food item here]!”

  • Joanne

    Food is never wasted; something will eat it.

  • Joanne

    Food is never wasted; something will eat it.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10 To which I responded, “so send it to them already!”

    Point 5, is pretty bad. I worked low level management in food service. Most food loss in a well run restaurant is due to customers wasting food. Well managed places can predict to reasonable accuracy how much food they will need and they stick to that to minimize loss, because loss on “kitchen end” is loss of profit and well they want to make money.

    Eateries also have to deal with food safety laws and some of the food that is lost is because a customer didn’t like it and gave it back, law says it has to be thrown out – even if they didn’t actually touch the food it is considered unsafe for human consumption.

    Now this isn’t to say we aren’t wasteful. I think we are. I don’t have to look any further than my own kitchen at home to find proof. On my own end, I would say it is safe to say it is a combination of abundance and laziness. And yes, I know I need to improve, I am working on that.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10 To which I responded, “so send it to them already!”

    Point 5, is pretty bad. I worked low level management in food service. Most food loss in a well run restaurant is due to customers wasting food. Well managed places can predict to reasonable accuracy how much food they will need and they stick to that to minimize loss, because loss on “kitchen end” is loss of profit and well they want to make money.

    Eateries also have to deal with food safety laws and some of the food that is lost is because a customer didn’t like it and gave it back, law says it has to be thrown out – even if they didn’t actually touch the food it is considered unsafe for human consumption.

    Now this isn’t to say we aren’t wasteful. I think we are. I don’t have to look any further than my own kitchen at home to find proof. On my own end, I would say it is safe to say it is a combination of abundance and laziness. And yes, I know I need to improve, I am working on that.

  • George A. Marquart

    The answers to these questions are as complex as mankind’s sinfulness.

    But first, a defense of the free enterprise system. Many years ago a Soviet visitor to an American supermarket noted that it was such a huge waste to have 4 different kinds of spaghetti on the shelves. I suspect that most of those that were unsold were donated to some charity – as a tax write-off. On the other hand, when I once bought a pack from the one type available in a Soviet store, it did not soften even after an hour of cooking. None of this stuff was ever given away or thrown away – it just sat there for years, observing anniversaries of the Great October Revolution. Because there is an incentive to make a profit, even from waste, I suspect the free enterprise system wastes less than any other – “baby carrots” are a good example.

    The culmination of our Lord’s suffering was on Golgotha. But all of His life on earth was suffering, when compared to the bliss He enjoyed in heaven. Yet he made this sacrifice voluntarily, “for the joy that was set before Him”. To sacrifice voluntarily (not just to give a little from your excess) for someone else’s benefit is extremely difficult. “Think of the starving children in India” is not a great incentive to finish what is on your plate, when you realize that gorging yourself will not help any of those children. But it could, if we made a conscious effort to eat less, and to donate the money thus saved to a hunger fighting charity. The same with many of the luxuries to which we have developed a feeling of entitlement. It’s a matter of developing genuine concern for the welfare of others at the expense of our own wishes. Not easy even for the regenerate.

    It is estimated that somewhere in the world, ten children starve to death every minute. That is about sixty during the average service in one of our churches. As a preacher, commenting on this statistic, once noted, “and most of you don’t give a s**t.” Then he added, “The real crime is that you are more upset about the bad word I used in church than that those children are starving to death.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    The answers to these questions are as complex as mankind’s sinfulness.

    But first, a defense of the free enterprise system. Many years ago a Soviet visitor to an American supermarket noted that it was such a huge waste to have 4 different kinds of spaghetti on the shelves. I suspect that most of those that were unsold were donated to some charity – as a tax write-off. On the other hand, when I once bought a pack from the one type available in a Soviet store, it did not soften even after an hour of cooking. None of this stuff was ever given away or thrown away – it just sat there for years, observing anniversaries of the Great October Revolution. Because there is an incentive to make a profit, even from waste, I suspect the free enterprise system wastes less than any other – “baby carrots” are a good example.

    The culmination of our Lord’s suffering was on Golgotha. But all of His life on earth was suffering, when compared to the bliss He enjoyed in heaven. Yet he made this sacrifice voluntarily, “for the joy that was set before Him”. To sacrifice voluntarily (not just to give a little from your excess) for someone else’s benefit is extremely difficult. “Think of the starving children in India” is not a great incentive to finish what is on your plate, when you realize that gorging yourself will not help any of those children. But it could, if we made a conscious effort to eat less, and to donate the money thus saved to a hunger fighting charity. The same with many of the luxuries to which we have developed a feeling of entitlement. It’s a matter of developing genuine concern for the welfare of others at the expense of our own wishes. Not easy even for the regenerate.

    It is estimated that somewhere in the world, ten children starve to death every minute. That is about sixty during the average service in one of our churches. As a preacher, commenting on this statistic, once noted, “and most of you don’t give a s**t.” Then he added, “The real crime is that you are more upset about the bad word I used in church than that those children are starving to death.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I used to go to our local supermarket every morning and get the vegetables that the produce department was otherwise going to throw in the dumpster, to feed our animals (ducks, geese, turkeys). There was always plenty that was still perfectly edible, but not salable because of some small blemish. People just won’t buy imperfect produce these days, even if it’s marked down.

    That says something wonderful to me about our free market system.

    Decadence? Maybe. People in poor countries would be more than happy to eat what we routinely throw away, sure. But it’s not like they would voluntarily choose the less-than-perfect produce , any more than we would, if they had the more perfect stuff affordably available.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I used to go to our local supermarket every morning and get the vegetables that the produce department was otherwise going to throw in the dumpster, to feed our animals (ducks, geese, turkeys). There was always plenty that was still perfectly edible, but not salable because of some small blemish. People just won’t buy imperfect produce these days, even if it’s marked down.

    That says something wonderful to me about our free market system.

    Decadence? Maybe. People in poor countries would be more than happy to eat what we routinely throw away, sure. But it’s not like they would voluntarily choose the less-than-perfect produce , any more than we would, if they had the more perfect stuff affordably available.

  • Joanne

    There is someone just like you, who lives within 5 blocks of your house who often goes hungry. They can’t get to the stores very often. Their income is limited. Their house looks just like yours, but food is a problem for them just because no one helps them buy it or cook it. And some rules keep them ineligible for most social programs. When people take them out to eat, they save almost half to take home for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Jesus puts right in your path whom he wants you to feed, clothe, and visit in prison. Stop casting your eyes over the horizon, they are right in front of you. Stop feeling guilty about your extra stuff, you have opportunities to share it everyday and build loving appreciation in someone’s heart when you make it a relationship of help. You know that little old lady who has trouble getting to the stores; could be she’s just too weak to open her garage door anymore, or the motor broke. You’d be amazed how many around you need things fixed that you could fix in 5 minutes, but they can’t. We hurry too much, no time, no time, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. Slow down and look around, your help is near.

  • Joanne

    There is someone just like you, who lives within 5 blocks of your house who often goes hungry. They can’t get to the stores very often. Their income is limited. Their house looks just like yours, but food is a problem for them just because no one helps them buy it or cook it. And some rules keep them ineligible for most social programs. When people take them out to eat, they save almost half to take home for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Jesus puts right in your path whom he wants you to feed, clothe, and visit in prison. Stop casting your eyes over the horizon, they are right in front of you. Stop feeling guilty about your extra stuff, you have opportunities to share it everyday and build loving appreciation in someone’s heart when you make it a relationship of help. You know that little old lady who has trouble getting to the stores; could be she’s just too weak to open her garage door anymore, or the motor broke. You’d be amazed how many around you need things fixed that you could fix in 5 minutes, but they can’t. We hurry too much, no time, no time, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. Slow down and look around, your help is near.

  • Michael B.

    @Jon@10

    “What was it our parents used to say to us at the dinner table?
    “Janey, eat your food! There are starving kids in [ __insert country of your choice___] who would love to eat your [___insert food item here]!”

    My mom used to say that, and one time I responded “name one”. I’m lucky I wasn’t back-handed. :)

  • Michael B.

    @Jon@10

    “What was it our parents used to say to us at the dinner table?
    “Janey, eat your food! There are starving kids in [ __insert country of your choice___] who would love to eat your [___insert food item here]!”

    My mom used to say that, and one time I responded “name one”. I’m lucky I wasn’t back-handed. :)

  • Med Student

    Nothing like several lectures about microbes that cause food poisoning to make you pay attention to food expiration dates…even if they aren’t terribly accurate. :D

  • Med Student

    Nothing like several lectures about microbes that cause food poisoning to make you pay attention to food expiration dates…even if they aren’t terribly accurate. :D

  • Dust

    wonder what percentage of time we waste?

    the one and only non-renewable resource :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    wonder what percentage of time we waste?

    the one and only non-renewable resource :)

    cheers!

  • Woody Bailey

    And cucumbers are about 95% water.

  • Woody Bailey

    And cucumbers are about 95% water.

  • T. Webb

    17,500 people died yesterday due to hunger. 17,500 will die again today for the same reason, and again tomorrow. How many people are in your church (around 300 in mine)? How many of your congregations would it take to get to 17,500 people? Moms, dads, boys, girls, brothers, sisters, grannies & grandpops?

  • T. Webb

    17,500 people died yesterday due to hunger. 17,500 will die again today for the same reason, and again tomorrow. How many people are in your church (around 300 in mine)? How many of your congregations would it take to get to 17,500 people? Moms, dads, boys, girls, brothers, sisters, grannies & grandpops?

  • Marie

    Seconding composting and having someone in the house spending a lot of time in the kitchen. My family of six fills only half a garbage can each week, much less than our neighbors. It’s not intentional, and I didn’t realize it until a few months ago. I couldn’t figure out why we had so little garbage, and my husband pointed out that I compost all the kitchen waste (except meat waste) and we don’t buy anything (not out of super-human virtue, but out of being “poor”).

    Someone preparing meals mean 1) leftovers are “repurposed” and 2) nothing gets forgotten in the back of the fridge.

    Really weird to me: carton-ed and canned broth (which comes free with any beef or chicken cut–just boil the bones/carcass for a few hours); and “cream of…” soups, which can just be made with butter, flour, broth and your choice of flavor (mushroom, chicken, beef. Can’t say I’ve ever made celery)

    A fellow mom and I had a recent conversation about “bumming food” off folks who don’t want their bounty (pear, peach, cherry, apple trees come to mind. Old, wild raspberry patches on friends’ property, etc). It’s amazing what is left to rot. The cost of “gourmet” tomato marinara in the grocery store is exorbitant if you consider how freely folks give their tomato bounty away in August, even in this year of drought. I can easily make 50+ jars of sauce for under .50 each (with a lot of sweat and some free babysitting). I get fresh milk from this same friend, and the cream on top makes 2 lbs. a butter a week, so it more than pays for itself.

    I haven’t ventured into backyard salad-ry yet, although I pulled a deliciously healthy-looking dandelion yesterday.

    I bet you all could significantly lower your food bills with a little time and creativity!

  • Marie

    Seconding composting and having someone in the house spending a lot of time in the kitchen. My family of six fills only half a garbage can each week, much less than our neighbors. It’s not intentional, and I didn’t realize it until a few months ago. I couldn’t figure out why we had so little garbage, and my husband pointed out that I compost all the kitchen waste (except meat waste) and we don’t buy anything (not out of super-human virtue, but out of being “poor”).

    Someone preparing meals mean 1) leftovers are “repurposed” and 2) nothing gets forgotten in the back of the fridge.

    Really weird to me: carton-ed and canned broth (which comes free with any beef or chicken cut–just boil the bones/carcass for a few hours); and “cream of…” soups, which can just be made with butter, flour, broth and your choice of flavor (mushroom, chicken, beef. Can’t say I’ve ever made celery)

    A fellow mom and I had a recent conversation about “bumming food” off folks who don’t want their bounty (pear, peach, cherry, apple trees come to mind. Old, wild raspberry patches on friends’ property, etc). It’s amazing what is left to rot. The cost of “gourmet” tomato marinara in the grocery store is exorbitant if you consider how freely folks give their tomato bounty away in August, even in this year of drought. I can easily make 50+ jars of sauce for under .50 each (with a lot of sweat and some free babysitting). I get fresh milk from this same friend, and the cream on top makes 2 lbs. a butter a week, so it more than pays for itself.

    I haven’t ventured into backyard salad-ry yet, although I pulled a deliciously healthy-looking dandelion yesterday.

    I bet you all could significantly lower your food bills with a little time and creativity!

  • Tim

    This is not only a problem in the rich West. Here in Papua New Guinea, a lot of food is wasted as well, albeit for different reasons, e.g. lack of refrigeration facilities for small-scale growers selling at market. See http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/from-the-field-to-the-rubbish-heap/

  • Tim

    This is not only a problem in the rich West. Here in Papua New Guinea, a lot of food is wasted as well, albeit for different reasons, e.g. lack of refrigeration facilities for small-scale growers selling at market. See http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/from-the-field-to-the-rubbish-heap/

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Marie’s got a good point.

    Another interesting point; if we assume a “mean” food loss of 25% and $2000 for a family of four–about $150/week–we can also infer that the middle and upper classes aren’t paying much more for food than the poor, who are allocated about $120/week in food stamps for the same size family.

    Now the stats could be off, but I know for sure that my family’s food budget is close to the food stamps/SNAP level. So one could infer that one reason we waste so much is…..yes, because it’s so cheap to us.

    We might also joke that, looking at our waistlines, it’s a good thing we waste so much food. :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Marie’s got a good point.

    Another interesting point; if we assume a “mean” food loss of 25% and $2000 for a family of four–about $150/week–we can also infer that the middle and upper classes aren’t paying much more for food than the poor, who are allocated about $120/week in food stamps for the same size family.

    Now the stats could be off, but I know for sure that my family’s food budget is close to the food stamps/SNAP level. So one could infer that one reason we waste so much is…..yes, because it’s so cheap to us.

    We might also joke that, looking at our waistlines, it’s a good thing we waste so much food. :^)

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