The Food Pyramid Turned Upside Down
Food is a subject near and dear to my heart even if it does harden my arteries at times. In fact all of us have some interest in the subject. Food has always been a primary focus of social gatherings, it is used to comfort and to celebrate. Production of food is one of mans oldest industries and continues strong today. We all place a great value on food and access to a great variety and abundance. And when we’ve had our fill we end up wasting about 40% of it. When addressing the food pyramid, i wanted to discuss the waste that we see (and some we don’t see) at the grocery store. When you go in to get your groceries, the display is always of perfect fruits and vegetables. Because all of them have been sorted and trimmed in the back room. The ugly produce and all of the trim waste are gathered here ready to go on to their next stop. In many cases that stop is the dumpster. Obviously some of these items have no further immediate use. But some do. In a country where one out of seven people do not have food security (that’s about 40 million people) this is a treasure trove. The most obvious solution to benefit both the store and the consumer is to take that produce and sell it for a reduced price. This makes a viable fresh food available at a reduced cost and helps stretch a family’s food dollars. Next in line would be to take those items and donate them to a food bank or food pantry, affording those who are most severely impacted by our economic situation the opportunity to have fresh food. Next in line is dealing with trimmings and spoilage, food not suitable for human consumption. There is no need or benefit to send this to a landfill. In fact, stores can improve their bottom line by working with a recycler to find a beneficial use of this material. There are a variety of options available that do not involve filling a hole in the ground. Food waste can be used to make compost, animal feeds, fuels and more being explored. The food pyramid on the backend should reflect the need to minimize the waste, recover the useable portion, recycle the rest. All of which will improve the bottom line of the store, improve the quality of life in their community and reduce the environmental impact of our current food delivery system.