In America, 40% of all food is discarded. That can be millions of pounds of eatable food every day. Why? Mostly because each one of us as an individual don't think before tossing out food and because there exists various policies or laws that do more harm than good. The current administration's Lunch Program has also increased food waste in schools. If parents don't teach their children to select healthier foods, our government certainly can't force them to eat healthier. The schools can teach, as should the parents, but this is still a free country. Provide a choice; and eventually with education and cooking with better recipes, healthier food will be selected more than mass produced unhealthy food. There are now 1.5 million students not buying school lunches anymore because of poor tasting cuisine. Cafeteria workers have lost their jobs, while some students are selling salt under the cafeteria tables.
World wide there is approximately 795 million people who do not have a steady supply of food. The food we waste each day in America will not only feed everyone in the United States, but almost every chronically malnourished person in the world. These stats are available to anyone who has the will to search them out and we need the following changes:
FIRST - All Farms and Farmers must be allowed to donate bruised or ugly vegetables and fruits to a well organized distribution system for food banks.
SECOND - All Restaurants and Food Retail businesses must have stronger food donation policies after removing all the so called laws that are labeled as protection, yet waste tons of food. These legal barriers do more harm than good by prevent food to be donated by the tons.
THIRD - Every School and Institutions must incorporate the education on how to save food, rescue food, prevent food waste and how to compost. Lessons on how to grow or buy local organic produce and all the benefits for doing so... Fresh and great taste, cost less, and perfect colors or shapes do not matter! In addition, all this should be done as part of the normal curriculum and NOT because the school waited around to receive a government grant.
Fourth - All of us Consumers must be accountable for our actions, not only in buying the correct amount of food, but also in preparing, saving left overs, composting and making your voice heard. Start off now by getting involved with local food banks and Congress so changes can take place. More importantly, we all must start making changes with ourselves.
Therefore, please know that in 2015 a tax break put forth by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree will reduce food waste. This was originally introduced in a bill written by Congressman Tom Reed of New York and creates an enhanced tax deduction for farmers, grocery stores, and restaurants who donate unused food to food banks and soup kitchens.
I will conclude with this story about an Anthropologist who proposed a challenge to some children living in a small village. A basket of fruit was placed by a tree and the children were told that the first person to arrive at the basket of fruit will get to keep all the fruit for themselves. All the children stood up, held hands and walked over to the tree together. The tallest and oldest child was asked why he didn't run ahead to arrive first and keep all the fruit for himself. The answer was one word, "Ubuntu". Then he explained by saying, "How can I be happy if all the others are sad?" Ubuntu in the Xhosa culture means: "I am, because we are." That is so powerful and that is why we all should say what Charles Dickens had his character Tiny Tim say, "God bless us, everyone."
Bill Lauto , GTG
International Sustainability and Energy Consultant
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