50% Of America’s Produce Is Wasted Due To Unrealistic Food-Beauty Standards

category:

By Cooking Panda

It’s no secret that America’s obsession with unrealistic beauty standards has affected people nationwide and beyond — but did you know that our preoccupation with aesthetics includes our food too?

Per a recent article in the Guardian, there is research to suggest that one whole half of the nation’s produce likely ends up in the trash, not because it’s rotten or unsafe to eat, but because it doesn’t look pretty enough.

Essentially, Americans employ a “cult of perfection” mindset when it comes to consumables: vast quantities of fresh, safe-to-consume produce grown in the U.S. rot in the field, are fed to livestock, or simply hauled from the field to a landfill due to our cosmetic standards.

Produce ends up lost in fields, warehouses, supermarkets, restaurants, fridges and during packaging and distribution because retailers demand perfection in the produce they buy.

Jay Johnson, who ships vegetables and fruit from North Carolina and central Florida, told the Guardian: “It’s all about blemish-free produce. 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.”

More than two dozen interviews showed farmers, packers, truckers, food academics and campaigners and more describe this horrifying food waste as occurring “upstream”, meaning that scarred, bruised, or otherwise blemished produce — that still has nutritional quality — is often abandoned in-field to save on labor and harvesting expenses.

Then, if you calculate retail waste, close to half of all produce grown is lost.

“I would say at times there is 25% of the crop that is just thrown away or fed to cattle,” Wayde Kirschenman, a potato and vegetable farmer near Bakersfield, California, told the Guardian. “Sometimes it can be worse.”

“I can tell you for a fact that I have delivered products to supermarkets that [were] absolutely gorgeous and because their sales were slow, the last two days they didn’t take my product and they sent it back to me,” an anonymous owner of a mid-size east coast trucking company added to the Guardian. 

“They will dig through 50 cases to find one bad head of lettuce and say: ‘I am not taking your lettuce when that lettuce would pass a USDA inspection.’ But as the farmer told you, there is nothing you can do, because if you use the Paca [Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930] on them, they are never going to buy from you again. Are you going to jeopardize $5m in sales over an $8,000 load?”

Sources: Guardian / Photo credit: Group Record

Tags: fruits, produce, vegetables, waste
related articles

Stop Wasting Food! These Fruits And Vegetables Last Forever

category:

By Cooking Panda

There are two kinds of grocery shoppers: those who write out exactly what they need to make their pre-planned recipes for the week, and those who run through the store and grab whatever looks good or is on sale. Whichever kind you are, you’ve probably found yourself at least once staring at a fridge full of rotten fruit and wilted vegetables at the end of the week, frustrated that you weren’t able to use them all. Well, you’re not alone. Did you know that roughly 40 percent of food grown in the U.S. does not get eaten?

Not all fruits and vegetables freeze well, but one easy way to cut back on wasting them is simply to buy foods that will last you longer. Berries and bananas spoil very quickly, so buy them sparingly and eat or freeze them quickly.

When you don’t have a game plan but want to stock up on leafy greens, try buying cabbage instead of lettuce or kale. Cabbage can stay good for more than two weeks, so you should have enough time to make that slaw. We recommend storing cabbage in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. To maximize freshness, don’t cut or wash it until you’re ready to use it.

Onions and garlic add a much-needed savory punch to almost any entree, and they stay good for ages – up to a couple of months. Yellow onions last the longest. Here’s how to store them.

Potatoes are another versatile, vitamin-packed food that lasts forever. Well, ok, not forever, but you can get a good two to three months out of them. Not bad. Just keep them away from your onions – they age each other. Sweet potatoes are a different story — the sugars will age them much faster, so keep an eye on them.

Whole, unwashed carrots and beets can last for up to three weeks in your fridge. Cut the green stems off to slow down water loss, and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Green peppers last for two to three weeks, since they are low in sugar. Opt for ones that feel heavy and have tight, unwrinkled skin. Keep them in a plastic bag in the crisper.

Winter squash lasts for more than a month outside of the refrigerator, while uncut watermelon can give you a good week or two in the fridge.

Tags: food hacks, Groceries, waste
related articles