Food Wastage- MLA format

                                                Food Wastage

The food wastage is not only a humanitarian issue as the wasted food has a pervasive impact on the environment of the region. The food wastage can have more serious implications that a purely economic analysis of the issue fails to encompass as aside from the sociological issue of people without access to food, the resources wasted in growing, transporting and processing are portents of significant environmental problems. The effects are all distinct and when considered individually, they are less significant. However, if the effects like the water used in growing the wasted food and the greenhouse gas emission from the disposed of rotting foodstuff are considered the implications of the issue become a dominant problem (Venkat, 435). It might be argued that the issue requires significantly more attention because of the difference was the food wastage affects the society and environment. As the issue is prevalent in the developed nations which are making significant headway in both environmental protection and the social justice this seems like a topic that can be used to significantly improve the overall effects of the issue. In this exercise, the United States is considered for the explorations this country is not only the largest in terms of the food wastage volume but also with the technological and economic wherewithal to address the potential impacts caused by the issue.

 

Evidence

A report in the Guardian suggested that the average American household wastes 1 pound of food per person per day which is mostly fruits and vegetables that amount to a national equivalent of 150000tons of food being wasted each day across the country (Milman).  The statistics also indicate that the fresh food that spoils more easily like vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat are the most wasteful in this regard. The annual volume of wasted food items amounts up to 60 million tons that are evaluated to cost $160 billion. This is a significant loss because the consumption and wastage are distributed unevenly across the population leading to many going hungry while the rest waste this massive amount of food every day. The data from the US Department of Agriculture also further cements the significance of the loss as the wasted food volume is equated with 30m acres of cropland, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water being used unnecessarily to produce food that is ultimately destined for landfills (Mu 482).

On that note, the wasted food contributes to 21% of the volume of the landfills which only ends up producing the greenhouse gas methane to negatively affect the pollution, climate and exacerbates the global warming issue. The pollutions caused by food wasted in the US alone is equivalent to 39 million passenger vehicles that drive home the significance of the issue form the environmental perspective. The issue should be considered a priority based solely on the environmental impact, but this is only part of the impact of food waste as the sociological impact of the food waste is also significant (Milman). While some people going without adequate food while the rest are wasting the inordinate amount of the same is the portent of a social imbalance, this also indicates a potential solution for the issue that is being ignored. Therefore, the fact that over 40% of the food produced in the US is wasted, which is significantly higher the global average, indicates that the issue needs further attention marking this exploration as a worthwhile initiative to understand the extent of the problem to devise proper solutions. 

The food waste is no doubt a major issue in the US according to the statistics, but the causation of the issue is unclear with diverse food consumption and wastage trends across the society. Even without considering the factor of social injustice, the food waste is caused by a range of factors including the choice of the consumption trends of the population that makes it hard to facilitate any universal method for minimising the wastage of food items across the board (Lansing107).  For example, the people who consume more fresh fruits and vegetable in pursuit of healthy lifestyle contribute more to the food waste issue as their consumption’s habits lead to large amounts of fruits and vegetables being thrown out after their freshness is compromised.

Moreover, as the fruits and vegetables have a lower shelf life than other processed foods, they are thrown out more frequently than other food items. Form an ecological perspective, while fruits and vegetables take less cropland, they require significantly more water, fertilisers and pesticides making this higher in terms of environmental resources cost (Zepeda and Balaine 631). As the freshness is essential to the marketability of the produce the transport cost is significantly higher which also contributed to the impact of the wasted food.

According to Qi and Brian, the main cause of the issue of food waste escalating over time is the lack of awareness of the consumers about the cost of wasted food form both environmental and sociological perspectives. The cost of food which is the main factor considered by the consumers wasting food is only minimally important in light of the significance of the issue. More often than not, the consumers associate their trends of food consumptions with only the most basic of views which make them biased against the other food groups. For example, the vegans often see meat as more wasteful produce in terms of the resources required growing but they completely ignore the water and other resources required to produce and transport fresh produce that contributed equally to the negative effects of food waste. The cost of storage and transport is often ignored while considering the cost of wasted food among the general population which makes the information disjointed resulting in lack of perception about the true cost of wasted food in each household across the socioeconomic spectrum (Zepeda and Balaine 634). The modern, fast-paced lifestyles of the Americans are also a significant factor in the issue as the time to prepare and preserve food is often considered unnecessary that increases the issue by some degree.

The households of the US are not the only source of wasted food as the various parties from the farmers to sellers all contribute to the issue to a significant degree. The department of agriculture indicates that about 40% of the food processing industry wastes food based on cosmetic imperfections (Warshawsky 389). This is also done in the supermarkets who only sell the perfectly formed fruits and vegetable and the rest are wasted without the consumers being aware of the fact. “Ugly” Fruit and Veg Campaign is an initiative that focuses solely on the food wasted based on cosmetic imperfection across the various levels of the food processing industry (Henson). Majority of the supermarket chains operating the US grocery sector are therefore guilty of increasing the wastage of food due to their policies which do not prevent food waste to a satisfactory degree (Thyberg and Tonjes 118). This not based on financial profitability as the major stores like the Aldi, Target and Trader Joe’s all have inadequate protection against food wastage.

Furthermore, these policies are endorsed if the wasted food is donated to various organizations making this initiative faulty and inadequate in terms of reducing food wastage and building awareness against food wastage. The inadequate or malpractices are another cause of food wastage that occurs across all levels of the industry in agro products. For example, the packaging can be used to considerably increase the shelf life of the fresh produce but is often not employed because of the extra effort necessary in using this as common practice. From cucumbers to beef, all agricultural produce lasts several days to weeks longer if they are packaged in plastic. Beef wrapped and vacuum-sealed in plastic lasts 26 days longer, while bananas last 21 days longer if the same packaging method is used (Heller 485-486). This is an effective solution to the food waste issue as the countries like Germany where over 60% of the food sold is packaged appropriately for maximising shelf life has a much lower degree of food wastage (Lansing 110).

There is also the issue of environmental footprint which is increased by using plastic in packaging, but other alternative materials increase transport cost making this the most effective solution for addressing the food waste issue (Huang 25). The policies used in food sorting can also be modified for decreasing wastage of food by finding alternative usage for items that ad deemed unsellable. However, there is also a list of barriers affecting the food waste issue like economic feasibility which is often at odds with environmental impacts.


Thus, the current statistics indicate that the US is one of the most wasteful nations when it comes to food waste. The lack of awareness of the population’s regarding the significance of the issue and endorsement of the harmful practices further increase the impact of the issue from both social and environmental perspectives. The need to balance the various areas of impact is also a significant cause of concern as the plastic packing-which is a major source of pollutions helps decrease food waste by a high degree. Therefore the need for strict best practices guideline across all stages of the food industry is required to address the issue in the US along with the programs to increase the awareness of the consumers regarding the significance of the numerous impacts of the food waste.


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