Confronting Food Waste, We All Have a Part

by Andrew Hoeft | May 11, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Knowing or appreciating the value of our food can be hard to do nowadays. With so many different options for everything you could want at the grocery store, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the food does not just magically grow right on the shelves.

We produce way more than is necessary to live comfortably. Pollution and waste are unavoidable byproducts of our current food industries practices. It is imperative to be proactive and offer a helping hand in waste reduction.

The United Nations has estimated that we waste a whopping ⅓ of all the food we produce on earth. This means that perfectly edible food, food that can go to feeding the hungry, is hitting the trashcan because the general public is unaware of their waste habits.

Another problem with all this food waste is that it’s being sent to rot in our landfills which creates methane that is harmful to our atmosphere. Almost 50 billion pounds of food is sent to landfills every year, which is close to 10% of everything bought from grocery stores.

Food waste happens at every stage of food production and consumption. From where it’s produced to individual consumers, almost all of us play a part in food waste. One link in this chain that is constantly trying to reduce food waste is supermarkets. Due to consumer demands, supermarkets and grocery stores need to stock so much product that it is nearly impossible to sell everything before it expires.

Think about produce; stores always keep fruits and vegetables well stocked so consumers can pick the freshest and best-looking produce. This places an enormous strain on grocery stores that results in overstocking.

Now think about an apple that is a funny shape or has a scratch on it, although the apple is perfectly fine to eat, it will most likely never be bought. Multiply this by the number of apples on display, and then the number of stores in the US and then realize this happens every day, and you get a lot of apples wasted. This isn’t just the case for apples, too much of the food wasted today could still be eaten or used.

Thankfully not everyone is turning a blind eye to this problem. Several grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are implementing food donation programs to deal with waste responsibly. These initiatives send products to food banks and homeless shelters where it can provide nourishment for the hungry, even if it’s not pretty enough to be sold anymore.

The burden lies on us all. We must look for ways to reduce waste where ever it occurs. Consumers can change their buying habits. Producers can grow food locally to cut down and save on shipping. Grocery stores can find smarter ways to sell and donate instead to throwing away.

One great way grocery stores can avoid food waste is by using technology like Date Check Pro. The program allows stores to analyze their entire inventory quickly and see which items are close to expiration so they can be marked and sold in a different price category. Date Check Pro provides statistics on the foods that are heavily impacting shrink. Try coupling this software with the “Stop Waste Together” initiative to make it easy to sell your excess inventory before it becomes expired. Raise awareness and join the movement so grocery stores can do their part to reduce waste and ultimately help save our increasingly polluted planet.

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