The holiday season is all about food—food at parties, dinners, leftovers. There are the favorite casseroles and desserts, the scrumptious homemade rolls, the fun holiday season drinks and appetizers. For those of us who like to cook, it’s like a little taste of heaven to have a day to cook at our leisure and loving friends or family to enjoy the result of our hard work. Because of that, we sometimes go overboard and fix far more than we truly need.
Don’t get me wrong, I like leftovers. But they can get old if you have to eat them daily for more than a week to use them up. There’s also the possibility they could go bad before you do use them all.
That’s what I thought about today after listening to a radio story on the BBC about wasted food. In London’s Trafalgar Square, author Tristram Stuart organized a free lunch to feed five thousand people to draw attention to the problem of food waste. He prepared the dishes with produce that was rejected by the supermarkets for superficial imperfections and was destined for the landfill.
In an article for Prospect Magazine, Stuart quoted Save the Children as saying the amount the average British household spends on wasted food a year would be enough to lift three malnourished children out of hunger. UK households reportedly waste 25 percent of all the food they buy.
So what about food waste in the United States? A 2008 report by the Stockholm International Water Institute, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Water Management Institute says as much as 30 percent of food in the United States is thrown out each year.
While we might not be able to pack up our leftovers and send them off to hungry children, there are repercussions of food waste that influence the ability of the world to feed its people. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has raised concerns about the phenomenon because of the environmental consequences. There’s also the impact waste has on prices on the world food market. And think about the energy the entire food production and preparation process uses on food that doesn’t get eaten.
One of the good things about being a gardener is that when my vegetables don’t look great, I eat them anyway. I know they’ll still taste good. Yet, there is food waste in our household.
There are more than one billion people in the world who are hungry right now. Working toward eliminating food waste in our home might be just a small gift that won’t reach those hungry people today, but I can also add my prayers that one day it will make a big difference.