Food for thought: Waste not, want not

By Morgan McCririe

With staggering rates of eating disorders, obesity and waste, it is clear the way Americans view and treat food is flawed.

The U.S. has the largest food surplus of any nation and produces double what the population requires, according to The New York Times. However, around 50 percent of this goes to waste.

We at Olivet are contributing to this problem. You may have seen the signs recently posted in the dining room that say, “100 to 200 pounds of food is wasted each food service.”

Now, you have paid for the right to eat as much or waste as much as you want. Our meal plans allow us to throw away food without thinking about it, if we so choose. But wasting food has a larger impact than most realize.

Food waste has many environmental implications. Food is the second largest component of landfill waste, The Huffington Post reported.

Since food is biodegradable, this may not seem like a very big problem; however, in landfills, food decomposes without air, producing methane. Methane gas is “20 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Because landfills are the “largest human-related source of methane emissions” in America, “cutting waste can have a measurable impact on the environment,” says Jonathan Bloom in his New York Times blog.

Landfills are continuing to grow while many are still hungry. In the United States, one in seven households is living in hunger or is at risk of hunger, according to the Department of Agriculture. And, nearly half of all American children will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, according to the Associated Press.

The fact is, we produce enough food in the U.S. for everyone to have double the amount they need, so why is hunger still an issue?

The answer is not simple. The leading cause of hunger in America is poverty, according to Poverty has many causes, including lack of jobs, low education and drug abuse, and those causes have other causes. So, it seems as though to solve the problem of hunger, we would have to solve basically every other social problem America faces, but this is not to say that making an impact is impossible.

If the leading cause of hunger is poverty, it can be deduced that high food prices are an issue. Food waste increases demand, which drives prices up and makes food more expensive for those already struggling to provide.

I have seen entire sandwiches, hamburgers and pieces of fruit put on the conveyor belt to be thrown away, and I too have been guilty of wasting food simply because I got too much. It’s easy to disregard comments like “there are starving children in Africa” because we are so far removed from those issues, but the truth is, our food waste has direct consequences for the environment and for the millions in our own nation who are hungry.

Our generation has become one that lacks accountability and doesn’t wish to look outside our comfortable bubbles.

We don’t want to see the consequences of our actions. We don’t want to see those in our community who are in need, because it forces us think about issues bigger than the assignment that’s due tomorrow.

If we really want to be followers of Christ, we need to actually listen to what He said and pay attention to the way He lived.

I believe in simplicity. I believe in only taking what you need so there will be some left for others.

God blesses us with much so that we can bless others, not so we can keep it to ourselves or just throw it away.

As Christians we need to take responsibility for our actions and be good stewards of the earth and resources God has provided us.

Let us not be the sort of people who waste. Let us live simply and be generous, not excessive.

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