The Food and Agriculture Organization is on a new mission: to combat the waste of food which has become another industry. With financial losses of $161 billion each year, one can only ask himself who benefits from this loss?
To answer that question, we must take a look at what generates the waste of about 133 billion pounds of food each year, in America only.
Why do we waste food?
Researchers at the University of and departments in the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources say that the date labels on food products are the apparently benign cover-up for it. They conducted a study and their conclusions are that labels saying best by, best if used by, or use by creating expensive confusion for consumers.
The manufacturers have the liberty to use whatever label they feel like. But the subtle implications of each of them make consumers throw food to the trash for no good reason.
According to the FDA, 90% of America’s population misinterprets the labels. Proper storage and product validity are interdependent, but the labels don’t make that link clear. So, people waste food for safety concerns.
Debasmita Patra, Study Lead Author, and Assistant Research Professor at Environmental Science and Technology, says that “the labeling is the manufacturer’s best estimation based on taste or whatever else, and it is not scientifically proven.”
Patra hopes to get the collaboration of distinct sciences, such as environmental science, food science, sociology, or Extension education to build the best plan to cease or at least minimize food waste.
Why shouldn’t we waste food?
We might not care about our financial losses. But when we waste food, we don’t just waste our money.
Food isn’t just-food. The losses occur to all ends. The waste of it implies other concerns, such as agricultural and environmental issues. Food is biodegradable but it still causes 10% of the greenhouse gases. Not to mention food package which rarely is biodegradable. Dairy comes from one of the main sources of greenhouse gases, the cattle. And the list can go on.
So, the manufacturers might abuse the liberty they had to label their food as they consider, but we as consumers have our responsibility too. We shouldn’t buy more than we need.
We’ve been through a period that made us feel the need to make stocks of food we don’t consume. And maybe it is understandable. But the lockdown is not so strict anymore. So, we could use the experience to analyze our eating behavior and learn to approximate better.
The specialist’s conclusion
“Food is something that is involved in everybody’s life, and so everyone needs to be a good food manager. When you throw that food away, you are not only wasting the food, but also all the economics associated with that, like production costs, transportation from the whole farm to fork chain, and everything else that brought you that product just to be thrown away,” said Patra.