Ugly Foods

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Too much food is wasted in this country. Researchers find we waste up to 48 percent of the food we produce every day. At the same time, too many people are struggling to put healthy meals on the table. Many of our citizens live in food deserts and junk food jungles where they are surrounded by unhealthy food options. A recent government survey found 48 million Americans live in food insecure households. 34 percent of American adults over the age of 20 and 17 percent of children are obese while nearly 33 percent of low income children ages 2-4 are obese.

These citizens are overweight because they cannot afford a good diet of fruits and vegetables. This leads to expensive healthcare issues down the road. This is not sustainable. There has to be a common sense solution and I found one in Ugly Food.

80 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US each year. To put that in perspective, it is enough food to fill the Rose Bowl each day. Ugly foods are considered to be fruits and vegetables that are imperfect foods the regular grocery stores may reject. Ugly foods may also be considered as foods close or near their sell by dates on the display code. Display codes like “sell by”, “use by” and “best by” dates are not food safety dates. The dates are used by the stores for rotation purposes are not must eat by dates. The dates are not regulated by the federal government. The only federally regulated product with required sell-by dates is infant formula and some baby foods.

There is a grocery store in Massachusetts called Daily Table. Daily Table is a not-for-profit retail grocery store that offers fresh produce and grocery items as well as ready to cook and grab and go prepared meals at an affordable price. They obtain wholesome, nutritious food that is excess or overstocked from grocery stores, food suppliers, manufacturers, restaurants and growers. They sell food that still has a reasonable window of use past their “display code.” The main competition is with fast-food alternatives in the neighborhood. I do believe, given a choice, people will choose healthier options.

We live in the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world. Many may argue the responsibility of feeding those in need is not the responsibility of the government. They may also argue hunger is a motivator to some to work and laziness is justification for waste. This not an example of good stewardship. Hunger is not just a health issue; it is a national security issue. Unhealthy people are weak of mind and body. Hungry or unhealthy people produce problems and are unable to produce solutions. Agencies like Daily Table provide a low cost solution. Cutting food waste not only provides a valuable solution to the hungry, it also is a great example of how to make this country stronger.

If you would like to learn more please feel free to contact me thomsustainableconsulting@gmail.com. Or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff.

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