Americans waste over 31% of the food produced each year – that’s $162 billion worth, enough to fill 44 skyscrapers. Most producers discard fresh produce due to small blemishes and spots – produce that a home gardener would be proud to grow. An open-air free lunch used wasted food to serve meals to 5,000 people in Washington, D.C. You may envision plates of moldy vegetables, rotten fruits, and gray meat, but the feast turns out fresh, bright dishes for people to enjoy. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of the magnitude and type of food that we waste.
“People are really waking up to the scale of the problem and the fact that the solutions are obvious, practical, delicious, nutritious — it just simply means celebrating and enjoying all of the foods that we are currently wasting but shouldn’t be,” says Tristram Stuart, the founder of Feedback Global, the group that organizes the event.
Other creative ways have been implemented to combat food waste, such as opening grocery stores to sell “expired” foods. Foods that are still around past their “sell by” and “best by” dates have another chance to be sold – this is especially important since those dates often indicate peak freshness rather than food safety (although it’s best not to gamble with dairy). Consumers can buy the food at a discounted rate, leaving a little extra in their pocketbooks.
It’s something to chew on before you throw away your spotty but tasty produce.
Photo: Vegetables being prepared for the paella that was served. Credit: Morgan McCloy/NPR