Of course, it’s not just grapes we and most other households throw out. One study estimates that over 40% of all food produced gets tossed for one reason or another. This study calculates the cost to be about $1,800 annually per household. The EPA concluded that wastage is so severe, food is the single biggest resident of municipal landfills, making up more tonnage than either plastics or paper. Which is pretty amazing given all the food packaging that ends up in landfills.
The negative by-products of all this rubbish is not only land-fill stuffage but over-farming, needless energy and water consumption, and numerous other environmental side effects such as excessive methane gas in the atmosphere.
The topic of food wastage is complex though, as every step in the process from farm to mouth creates its own pressures for adding to the landfills, as seen in the graphic below. The natural demand for plentiful and perfect-looking food creates many of these pressures. Fortunately, there are efforts along the chain to reduce the waste.
For example, the packaged food industry has worked to simplify and standardize the date labels so that there is less confusion and less discarding good food from the grocery store. There are now two date options: “Use by” for perishable foods that should be thrown out after the date specified and “Best if used by” for other items that may not be as high quality after the date but can still be safely consumed, at least for a while. There is also pending legislation that mirrors these voluntary industry standards.
Simple seems better than complicated. Time will tell if it has a significant impact.
I probably need to adjust my shopping and food prep habits. It would certainly help with the household budget. I’m also thinking I could use an app that warns me when those red grapes in my fridge are about ready to turn green. Alexa, if you’re listening…