America throws away half of its edible produce
Please enjoy this week's extremely depressing food-waste stat, which comes courtesy of a story in today's Guardian: New research suggests that fully one-half of the nation's produce now probably ends up as garbage. This dismal nugget from the story pretty well summarizes the findings:
The story distinguishes waste that's "downstream," or ruined because it goes bad on a grocery shelf or sits forever in a fridge bin, from waste that's "upstream." The first kind supposedly accounts for $160 billion worth of produce every year — which isn't hard to believe when you remember each American family single-handedly trashes $600 worth of food in that time frame — but factor in ugly produce left to rot in the field or rejected by grocery stores, and The Guardian estimates this figure quickly climbs to half of all of the fruits and vegetables the country grows.
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Lately there's no shortage of efforts to curb spoilage, but more and more activists argue it's futile, considering how food waste is now "built into the economics of food production." As one farmer explains:
As a result, producers themselves are now part of the problem. As one tells The Guardian, modern farming boils down to two choices: "What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck."