Some 40 percent of the food we produce in the United States is chucked out — and not just moldy bread. Peek into dumpsters and garbage bags nationwide, and you’re bound to find food that resembles what you just bought at the supermarket.
Alex Barnard has seen it himself. “I’ve never eaten better than when I was dumpster diving,” he says. “Sadly, that’s because of this incredible wealth of waste at every point within the food system.”
Barnard, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley, spent eight years researching food waste, which included regular dives into dumpsters and foraging in trash bags of major retail chains across New York City. He chronicles his experience in the new book Freegans: Diving into the Wealth of Food Waste in America.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA estimate that more than 33 million tons of food are wasted every year in the U.S., and yet more than 17 million American households are food insecure.
We speak with Barnard about why we throw out so much edible food, why food pantries are a poor solution for hungry families, and why nonprofits that distribute leftovers may actually be perpetuating food waste.
Featured image: Food collected from dumpsters (credit: Creative Commons/Rob Greenfield TV).
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Alex Barnard’s Twitter
Huffington Post: The Food Waste Fiasco: You Have to See It to Believe it
Good Magazine: How to Fix All That Food Waste
Business Insider: Here’s Why Wasted Food Doesn’t Get To Poor People
Foodlets blog: What Food Banks Need (and What They Get Too Much Of)
SF Gate: Vast amounts of food trashed despite incentives
CA Magazine: Freegans: Driven to Dumpster Dive Not by Poverty, But by Environmental Politics
Natural Resources Defense Council: Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Land ll