Monday, May 24, 2010

California Throws Away Enough Food to Fill 35 Stadiums

I had a recent personal encounter with this waste myself.  I ate a late dinner at a Whole Foods sushi bar.  It was only 15 minutes before they closed, so I quickly ordered some food.  What did they do 15 minutes later with the 100, or so, pre-made sushi plates?  Well, I watched in horror as the clerk pulled out a giant trash bucket and nonchalantly started dumping everything into it.  Next time, I'll just wait fifteen minutes and head straight for the trash can.


What's worse than being one of the five million people in California who can't afford to buy groceries? It's living in a state that wastes enough food each year to fill the Staples Center 35 times over.

Despite an uptick in food insecurity, California throws away 6 million tons of edible food every year, according to a new analysis by California Watch and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. What's even more startling is that food accounts for more than 15 percent of California's total waste stream.

This really isn't big news — as a country, we waste 40 percent of the food available for consumption — but the astonishing thing to me is the excuses some companies and individuals give for not donating perfectly good food to people and organizations that really need it.

Many grocers say that they are reluctant to donate perishable items to hunger relief programs because they fear being held liable if someone gets sick from eating the food. However, there are fairly well-known federal and state laws that shield companies that donate food in good faith from responsibility if an illness occurs. If I can find these laws by doing some simple Googling, why can't a multi-million dollar corporation with a giant legal department figure it out? Seems like a pretty poor excuse to me.

No comments: