Monday, May 19, 2008

No Shortage Of Waste

One man's table scraps = another man's meal?
In a chilling NYT article about America -- and the "First World" -- propensity to waste food, Andrew Martin writes, "Grocery bills are rising through the roof. Food banks are running short of donations. And food shortages are causing sporadic riots in poor countries through the world. You’d never know it if you saw what was ending up in your landfill. As it turns out, Americans waste [...] an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption [...] and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American."

Thus, when the U.S. president castigated India's emerging middle class for pushing prices up in their desire for better food, the logical response was, Look at your own country's gluttony -- then we'll talk. Besides the insanity of waste, food landfills are also notorious for producing methane, which generates greenhouse-gas pollution. Meanwhile, food donations in America have decreased 9%, while the number of people showing up for them has increased 20%.

Martin goes on to describe the vicious chain of cause and effect. "The path of least resistance is just to chuck [the food]," explains Jonathan Bloom, who started the blog Wasted Food to track the issue. "The fundamental thing that I’m fighting against is, 'why should I care? I paid for it.' The rising prices are really an answer to that."

Like with gas prices, wallet coercion seems to be the only effective way to get people to adopt a more responsible behavior. L'âne n'apprend à nager que quand l'eau lui monte aux oreilles.
photo LA Frog: homeless salvaging a discarded hot dog on Santa Monica beach