Food Waste Problems in US and Solutions
Food refers to a substance that is consumed to provide nutritional support to the body. It may either be in the form of meat or plant origin. It contains essential nutritional elements such as vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins. The food substance is digested, ingested and assimilated by the organism in order to provide energy that is vital for maintaining life. Therefore, it is wise to understand that food-related problems affect the environment at an early stage when it is in form of seed, plant, and animal. These problems are reflected when food is being manufactured, processed and consumed. The side effects are transmitted to the organisms that consume it. Thus, food problem has been a great challenge for the United States that calls for an amicable response from the society and the government. The analysis of this issue leads to an explicit research of food problems, their relation to the environment and their solutions.
Food Waste Problems
Food is essential for human survival, and, therefore, the United States has taken various approaches to increase food production. However, the approach taken has negatively impacted the environment. The government has adopted expansion of irrigational agriculture in order to increase food production (Gille 30). As a result, people have flocked to agriculture and food production with a business mind. Their main objective is to make money. The persistency of this production policy has led to devastating regional water shortages. This approach has created more problems that surpass the initial objective of increased food production (Cuéllar and Webber 6464). The problems created as the country endeavors to increase food production through irrigation exceed those that were experienced during the green revolution (Gille 31). Additionally, the leaders are not aware that the United States is facing immediate food and agriculture problems. Therefore, people realize the attempt to solve food-related questions that have created more issues instead of solving them. The immediate solution should be implemented to prevent the food waste problem from becoming more complicated.
The problem of over consumption in relation to what the United State is producing is also undeniable. Currently, the United States’ population is consuming more food than it is producing. The overconsumption is attributed to the fact that people are besides consumption, much food in being translated into waste. The researchers argue that assuming that the food is evenly distributed, it is anticipated that the population of United States will experience hunger in 2050 (Hickey and Ozbay 32). Thus, the policy approach that aims at decreasing food production should be adopted and geared towards improving the environment.
It is estimated that between a third and a quarter of food grown in the United States goes into waste (Hickey and Ozbay 18). This estimation includes waste encountered from harvesting process up to the final consumers. Food scientists argue that chefs and farmers end up throwing away food that is in good condition simply because there is limited space for storage (Lebersorger and Schneider 1925). Others claim that they do not get the right customers through such practices. Some farmers and chefs also add that the transaction cost of reaching the buyer is too high, and after that they prefer throwing it away.
It is painful noting that large number of food in the United States translates into waste due to delay in transit. This is attributed to poor methods of transportation used and traffic jams (Levis et al. 1488). Traffic jams are frequent in United States and poor road conditions are particularly disturbing in farming regions. Food also goes into waste when it is in the homes. Most people relate this fact to the lack of time for cooking (Levis et al. 1435). Thus, rotting food is a common phenomenon for those families who lack time to monitor what is in the fridge and cook regularly.
Recently, it has been realized that a large population in the United States affords meat in their daily diet. However, it is uneconomical to feed animals with plant food in order to get meat from them (Silvenius et al. 273). It is argued that a plant-based diet for humans is more economical than feeding animals with plants and later consuming their meat. Feeding animals is viewed as a waste of food and time, since meat obtained from such animals cannot compensate for plants and other resources used for the upkeep of the animal (Silvenius et al. 274). It contributes to the increased food waste in the United States, as large farms have been dedicated to growing animals for food. This is underutilization of land, since it could be used to produce more profitable plants for human consumption and thus reducing food waste. However, the government is reluctant to address this issue.
In addition, fish is a vital source of protein. The population of the United States is increasing exponentially. The population increase is reflected in the pressure of overfishing in fisheries. Currently, for the United States, fishing is at maximum and some cases of overfishing have been reported (Levis et al. 1488). Due to this practice, the population of fish is collapsing and it is anticipated that the seafood level will decrease drastically. This practice has a greater impact on sea water. Pollution has increased due to oil spills on the sea surface from the fishing ships (Levis et al. 1489). Overfishing has led to the extinction of certain fish species. Due to water pollution and malicious fishing activities at shore, some fish species have moved into the deep sea. Thus, as humans endeavor to get food from fishing, they have also negatively impacted the environment.
The government is reckless in addressing this issue, and most government officials accept bribery to keep the issue underlying (Levis et al. 1490). Overfishing has resulted in environmental degradation in US. It is estimated that every year America throws away more than 35 million tons of food. The United States’ environmental agency points out that food waste has been higher than plastic, glass, paper, and metal waste. Food waste in the US makes over 20% of the total garbage collected (Lebersorger and Schneider 1927). Despite the great waste of food in US, approximately 14% of the total families in the country struggle to meet their daily meal needs (Hickey and Ozbay 41). The US has adopted a new policy, which suggests that curbing hunger does not mean producing more food, but calls for better distribution and preservation food processes.
Food waste has devastating impacts on the environment. In the United States food waste has created many landfills that are decomposing and after that releasing methane (Gille 20). Scientists argue that methane gas produced is at least 20 times more lethal compared to greenhouse gasses such as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide (Gille 32). Some of these landfills are the largest producers of methane gas emissions in the United States. NRDC claimed that the landfills contribute almost a quarter to total methane emission in the country (Cuéllar and Webber 6465).
The environmental cost of food waste goes beyond methane emission. Food production is environmentally costly. It is estimated that about one-third of the global carbon emissions originates from agriculture (Cuéllar and Webber 6466). This cost has more impact when one takes into account food that does not end up as human consumption. This cost includes environmental decay that has been sacrificed for food production. It is worth noting that livestock production contributes approximately 15% of carbon emissions of the whole globe (Gille 33). Therefore, food that goes into waste, particularly meat, means that we are wasting part of the environmentally costly food that is available.
Solutions to these problems call for the contribution of farmers, manufacturers, consumers, and the government. Several initiatives have been introduced to curb food waste that does not end in people’s plates. The Americans have adopted the four pillars of FAO. The four pillars endeavor includes creation of food waste awareness, collaboration among the stakeholders, investment, and policy development (Silvenius et al. 277). These pillars help the nation to focus mainly on the needs for improving food channels. The USDA has collaborated with Webinar to develop policies and mechanism such as proper refrigeration (Silvenius et al. 292). The approach mainly focuses on reducing food waste in restaurants, supermarkets, and other establishments that deal with foodstuffs.
The United States has also developed some localized programs that are working hand in hand with the government in order to reduce food wastage (Lebersorger and Schneider 1927). For example, D.C. Central Kitchen is a local program whose office is in Washington D.C. It mainly focuses on reducing food wastage in the state of Washington D.C. (Lebersorger and Schneider 1929). This local program has been fruitful. For instance, it has repurposed about one million pounds of recovered food every year. It is estimated that about 40% of food waste originate from individual consumers, and 60% – from businesses (Lebersorger and Schneider 1931). Therefore, retailers, distributors, producers, and consumers should be called upon to fix this issue.
In conclusion, food waste is a problem in the U.S. that should not be neglected. A large percentage of food in U.S. is translating into waste meaning that the country is experiencing double loss both in resources used and environmental degradation. The U.S. government is reluctant to solve this issue. Some of the policies adopted by the government are ineffective, and government officials are corrupt. Environmentally, there has been an increase in methane produced by food waste thus increasing the greenhouse effect. Therefore, food waste is a threat to our environment. However, there is hope to overcome these problems. The solutions presented will help eradicate food waste problems. This approach will reduce financial loss and environmental degradation, and, therefore, there is a feeling that these solutions will redeem our state.