The Common Good
August 2008

Something Rotten?

by Rose Marie Berger, Alexis Vaughan | August 2008

Globally, the price of food is skyrocketing, causing riots in developing countries. In the U.S., food banks are running low on donations and high on visitors.

Globally, the price of food is skyrocketing, causing riots in developing countries. In the U.S., food banks are running low on donations and high on visitors. At the same time, tons of edible food gets dumped in U.S. garbage cans. But there are a few signs of hope.

“Restauranteurs in Little Rock are thinking big about the waste stream,” writes Jonathan Bloom on his blog, wastedfood. com. “A ‘waste audit’ at one restaurant found dumped food was the largest portion of the waste stream and that 79 percent of the trash was recyclable.” While the issue of food remains on the front burner of international news, you’d never guess what’s going into your local landfill:

  • 27 percent: Food available for consumption in the U.S. in 1995 that ended up in the garbage.
  • 27.6 million tons: Amount of food waste produced by Ameri­cans in 2003. That was 12 percent of the total waste stream for that year.
  • 20 percent: Increase in clientele reported by America’s Second Harvest, the largest network of food banks in the U.S., in spring 2008. Their donations are down by 9 percent.
  • 5 percent: Amount of recovered food waste that the Depart­ment of Agriculture estimated could feed 4 million people a day. Recovering 25 percent would feed 20 million people.

Sources: “One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal” (The New York Times); www.wastedfood.com.

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