Food waste has been an invisible and yet the biggest problem facing the people in Arizona. Despite the gradual wastes in bits, the overall food wastage in Arizona accounts for almost a third of the total quantity of food produced every year. Food waste in Arizona happens due to the overwhelming confusion of the people over the labels of the expiry date on food products and the burning desire to consume only the freshest foods and fruits. This article examines how the confusion about the expiration date and the desire for freshest foods contributes to the massive food waste in Arizona. It then explores what governments and activists are doing to solve the food waste problem. In addition to that, the paper explores what should be done to waste less food than is currently happening. Finally, it wraps up with a concise conclusion and a list of references.
The Americans throw away huge amounts of food every year either because they fear that the food may have expired based on the expiry date labels on the food products that indicates, freeze by, sell by, best by, use by. Having attained the recorded expiry dates, people fear using such food because they are afraid it might cause undesirable health effects (Thyberg 25). As a result, this belief leads to the disposition of many foods than it happens anywhere in the world. According to Hottle et al., Americans have a lot of the disposable income that they spend on purchasing food than it is anywhere in the world (54). Therefore, when an American throws away some strawberries, it does not spur weird feelings on others. Therefore, it has become something like a normal situation for an average American in Arizona to throw away food without having someone saying no to the action.
In the past, the grandparents lived in the countryside where they practiced food conservation and taught their children the importance of conserving food. In contrast, today's population has moved to the suburbs and cities where they have no care for food conservation. Hence, large amounts of foodstuff end up in the landfills and dustbins merely because they feel it is not fresh according to their perceived standards. As a result, food waste has become both a socio-economic and environmental conundrum. (Thyberg 25). The amount of food thrown away has risen faster than expected. According to the studies, more than 30% of the total food produced in Arizona gets disposed in the dustbins at various outlets. Considering the total amount of food getting disposed of in America, studies suggest that each American throws away an average of 240 pounds of food every year. Since money is used to buy food, the total amount of food being thrown away every year can amount to more than $1,500 every year by each family. For that reason, food has become the most dominant component of most garbage cans in the city. These foods ferment producing many gases that are not environmentally friendly and can lead to adverse climate change.
Food waste in Arizona occurs at different levels of production. The combined amount of food wasted by farmers and the producing companies comprises just up to 10% of the total food wastes in Arizona (Lanfranchi 12). The most massive amount of food being wasted in Arizona occurs mostly at the level of consumption especially in the homes, grocery stores, or at the restaurants. The amount of food getting thrown away at the consumption level amounts to more than 80% of the total 63 tons of food that Americans waste every year. At the grocery stores, traders purchase large amounts of foods for sale. Consumable foods such as fruits and vegetables are perishable therefore get expired faster. As a result, they are thrown away into garbage cans and later find their way into landfills and compost heaps. Apart from the perishable fruits, large amounts of dairies are also disposed of the stores due to their expiration dates labeled on the dairy packages. This amounts to large quantities of food being wasted every year. At the restaurants, customers are served with large amounts of food that they cannot finish eating. As a result, the leftovers are collected on restaurant tables every day (Lanfranchi 12). The accumulation of the small bits of food left over by customers after eating in the restaurants amounts to large quantities of foods getting thrown away into the trash. These large quantities of food, it could be conserved, would feed more stomachs elsewhere, but since they have been discarded at the garbage cans, they run into waste and become less useful for human consumption. The same situation also happens in the homes in Arizona. The small bits of food being discarded in homes, restaurants, and grocery stores amounts to more than 80% of the total quantities of food being wasted in America (Lanfranchi 12).
By making the issue of food wastage getting known by the public, non-profits organizations and passionate individuals have come up to address the food wastage issue. In addition to that, public agencies and even businesses have also shown their keen interest to support the issue. For example, the National Resource Defense Council endorsed the food conservation campaign known as "Save the Food" where they placed the statistics concerning the food wastage on the print, billboards and the digital space to influence the people to practice food conservation in their homes, restaurants as well as in the grocery stores. The campaigned enlightened thousands of people in Arizona on the matters concerning food conservation and discouraged wastage of food. According to the National Resource Defense Council, when a person trashes just one egg, he loses about 50 gallons of water to the environment. Apart from that, universities such as the Arizona State University and the Harvard University are actively involved in the issue of food wastage through hosting several forums to study and address the issue from the perspective of sustainability. In 2014, two filmmakers produced a documentary called "Just eat it" showing them getting into a certain grocery store and eating just the foods that are yet to be disposed of as a way of persuading people to stop throwing away foods and instead adopt more sustainable ways through which they conserve food to prevent wastage. At the level of the local government, San Francisco has proved very active on matters of food conservation through the adoption of the anti-waste goal come 2020. The program is dedicated to ensuring zero percent food wastage in Arizona by 2020. From the year 2002, San Francisco has ever been at the forefront for the zero percent campaign against food wastage through the use of mandates, services, and incentives. Event organizers, residents, and businesses are supposed to have separate dustbins for the recyclables, landfill, and compostable materials. Their additional concern can see the seriousness of San Francisco about food conservation matters. For example, people in Phoenix are required to have different bins for recyclables and trash, however, in San Francisco, people are required to include the third bin for developing the compost (Mourad 23). The federal government has also added greatly to food waste control in Arizona. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency came up with a domestic policy aiming at decreasing food wastage by 50% by 2030 (Scanlon 16). To attain the planned goal, the Environmental Protection Agency came up with the Food Recovery Challenge that required businesses and individuals to pledge to take the necessary action against food wastages. After pledging to take action against any wasteful activities in their setups, they were supposed to track the progress of their actions. The agency would then acknowledge the efforts of these groups through giving of the annual rewards. The initiative has attracted more than 850 organizations including three Arizona State universities and the Sprouts Farmers Markets based in Phoenix. EPA also developed food conservation strategies to help organizations practice sustainable food conservation such as diverting the food scraps to animal feeds before taking them to compost (Xue 45). This would prevent them from getting wasted. The private sector has also shown unified support for preventing food waste. ReFed Coalition, for example, has come up with various solutions for food wastes in Arizona through their project named as "A roadmap to Decrease Food Waste by 20 percent." The project has an estimated $100 billion investment in the societal, economic value within a decade. The organization explores the existing inefficiencies within the food system, defines metrics to understand the limits of the problem and work to shape the attitude of consumers in handling wastes.
Having understood some facts about food waste in Arizona, it would be beneficial to find some ways through which the people can reduce food wastes (Thyberg 65). The following are just some of the ways through which individuals or businesses can reduce the amounts of food they waste daily. Individuals at home should not cut vegetables or fresh fruits until they are ready to consume them. Chopped vegetables and fruits spoil faster compared to the uncut. Therefore, people should only cut the right quantities of fruits and vegetables that they are ready to consume at a given time to avoid unnecessary wastage entirely. Apart from that, people should keep a list the foods bought and kept in a fridge so that they may not forget what is sitting in their fridges and risk wasting them to spoilage. By marking down the dates of their foods, people can also know what food to eat first and what food follows in their menus to avoid letting food stay too long in the fridge or store to the point of wastage. People should freeze the foods they do not plan to consume within a week to make them stay fresh and unspoiled. In addition to that, feeding animals with scrap food is also a significant way of conserving food before taking it to the compost (Lanfranchi 12).
In conclusion, food waste in Arizona results from the disposal of food in due to the confusion of the expiry date and the craving for freshest foods by Americans. Most food wastes happen at the consumer level especially in homes, restaurants, and grocery stores. Both local governments and the federal government are making significant efforts at reducing the quantities of foods getting wasted in Arizona through mandates, services, and incentives. Ways of reducing food wastes include cutting the right quantities of vegetables and fruits to be eaten, keeping record of the foods kept inside fridge to avoid forgetting, marking down expiry dates of foods to consider them first before wasting, freezing foods to be stored for a week, and feeding animals with scrap foods before taking them to the compost.
Hottle, Troy A., et al. "Toward zero waste: composting and recycling for sustainable venue-based events." Waste Management 38 (2015): 86-94.
Lanfranchi, Maurizio, et al. "Household food waste and eating behavior: an empirical survey." British Food Journal 118.12 (2016): 3059-3072.
Mourad, Marie. "Recycling, recovering and preventing "food waste": competing solutions for food systems sustainability in the United States and France." Journal of Cleaner Production 126 (2016): 461-477.
Scanlon, Bridget R., et al. "The foodenergywater nexus: Transforming science for society." Water Resources Research 53.5 (2017): 3550-3556.
Thyberg, Krista L., and David J. Tonjes. "Drivers of food waste and their implications for sustainable policy development." Resources, Conservation and Recycling 106 (2016): 110-123.
Xue, Li, et al. "Missing food, missing data? A critical review of global food losses and food waste data." Environmental science & technology 51.12 (2017): 6618-6633.
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