A Look at Food Waste in California
FarmPlate Apr 06, 2010 News 0 comments
In California, more than 6 million tons of food products are thrown away every year by farms, restaurants and supermarkets. Food shelters, on the other hand, do not have the supply to meet the ever-increasing demand.
A recent examination by California Watch and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism took a close look at California’s food system to try to identify the reasons why these unwanted food products are not channelled to food banks and other organizations where donations are greatly needed.
The examination concluded that many grocery stores are more likely to throw away food than to donate it to local food banks because of liability concerns. Often, stores will donate bakery products but will throw away other highly perishable foods, including meat and produce, even before the expiration dates have been reached.
This is in spite of a 1996 federal law that, as reported in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, "protects all donations made in good faith . . . . The only exceptions are gross negligence or intentional misconduct. A plaintiff would have to prove that a company or individual intentionally tried to harm another person by making a donation of food it knew to be unsafe.”
The California Watch examination also reported that the majority of restaurants in California do not participate in food-donation programs, opting instead to throw out tens of thousands of tons of edible food each year.
In the San Francisco area, however, most restaurants in the Golden Gate Restaurant Association participate in the Food Runners program that distributes food that would otherwise go to waste to shelters.
In Vermont, initiatives are already in place to make sure that food that might otherwise go to waste gets to the people who need it most.
A group called Produce for the People has recently been organized to collect surplus produce from farms and backyard and community gardens for distribution to emergency food agencies and food banks.
The program’s founder, Bart Westdijk, recently told the Burlington Free Press, “We’re realistic that this is a long-term project. This is our first year, a year to educate. We don’t envision huge amounts of produce.” However, the program already has support from local businesses, including City Market in Burlington.
More National News
April 5: For the first time, ConAgra Foods announced company-wide sustainability goals. The company plans to reduce packaging, water, greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste by 2015. They will strive to enhance sustainable farming practices. Market Watch
April 2: As a part of President Obama’s heath care reform, chain restaurants with more than 20 locations will be required to post calorie information on their menus. ABC News
April 2: Michelle Obama and volunteers have replanted the White House organic garden. This year’s garden is 400 square feet larger than last year’s and will include new crops: bok choy, white cauliflower and artichokes. Tree Hugger
April 1: A government survey indicated record amounts of corn and soybeans may be planted this year, causing concern that prices might decline for farmers. Wall Street Journal