Get real and watch economics in action

12/28/2012 09:52:00 AM
Greg Johnson

Her biggest concern is food waste, judging by her blog topics. In her Dec. 13 post, she lays out how dire a situation U.S. consumers find themselves in.

“At a time when over 50 million people are food insecure and we face an obesity crisis, it’s a shame that 40% of food is never eaten. A closer look shows us that Americans are tossing 52% of the nation’s nutritious fruits and vegetables — wasting produce, more than any other type of food product, including seafood, meat, grains and dairy, at nearly every level across the supply chain.”

Later in her post, she acknowledges that farming is risky because of weather changes, which is a normal part of business.

She says growers are mostly not to blame for this waste — consumers are.

“Our finicky preference for perfect-looking produce not only forces some fruit and vegetables to be voted off the marketplace, it drives down the price of even slightly misshapen, smaller, or scarred fruit.”

The solution she says is complicated, but several different things can help.

  • First, consumers should buy imperfect produce
  • Second, businesses (presumably retailers) should offer consumers less-than-high quality product;
  • Third, policymakers should fund more studies into the problem and give tax credits for donations; and
  • Fourth, gleaners and food rescue operations should keep up the good work.

Where do I begin with these “solutions”? First, consumers have the freedom to buy lots of different kinds of produce, and retailers do offer levels of product, but they won’t sell product that could sicken people, and consumers throw away food that passes its expiration date.

This is a good thing.

More studies would be great if you worked for someplace like the NRDC, huh?

And gleaners and food rescue operations do an excellent job, as do the companies who already get tax deductions for donations.

Of course more charity is a good thing. Do we need a study for this?

The Wall Street Journal also ran a Dec. 26 column called “Hungering for a Solution to Food Losses,” written by Anna Lappé, the author of “Diet for a Hot Planet” and founder of the Real Food Media Project, and Danielle Nierenberg, co-president of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank.



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Denise Donohue    
January, 08, 2013 at 03:59 PM

Greg - Thought you so nailed it on this one! Great column. I don't think that strawberry thing is so long ago (2010) that it wouldn't happen again.

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