By Nelson Quinones, Jr.
With more than 465k+ lives lost and accounting for more than 27.1 million infections, the United States – always a leader – has established itself as the leading country in relation to losing the battle against COVID-19. Never one to be outdone, the United States of America additionally stands as the world leader of food waste. According to the article, “Food Waste in America in 2021,” on rts.com, Americans annually waste around 40 million tons of food: the equivalent of 80 billion pounds and more than $161 billion. This poignantly and soberingly comprises nearly 40% of the US food supply.
The stifling impact of COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted food waste, in multiple ways. This includes the reality of food insecurity. Food insecurity: when a household has limited or uncertain access to food, is experienced more by children than any other demographic. COVID-19 has further increased the number of families encountering food insecurity, due to unstable, and for many millions more, total unemployment. According to Feeding America, the Coronavirus pandemic may create a food insecurity experience for more than 50 million people, including 17 million children.
Tabulated statistics, measurable data, and current events aside, at a fundamental and most essential level, it is most imperative to remember that food is a basic need for humans. So fundamental in fact, proposed by Abraham Maslow, in his research, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” for Psychological Review, food is stationed as a foundational, physiological need. In that same physiological experience of a basic need, water, warmth, rest, and safety are included. Food – in every way – intricately affects our personal and social ways of life, both individually and collectively. Consequently, as food insecurity continues to negatively impact and inevitably further threaten individuals and families, one should immediately anticipate social conflict due to fear and injustice related to the availability of food and the quality of the food made available, to more disenfranchised communities.
Resonating more as an international cataclysm and far less than just another local crisis, Food Waste seems more like an overlooked and thus strategized injustice, than it does an avoidable and manageable social ill. Food – as a basic structure – exists across all industries. It is artistically experienced and expressed across all cultures. Individuals spend tens of thousands of dollars in educational pursuit of Culinary Sciences, to provide food and hospitality-related services scientifically and sanitarily, while others spend hundreds and sometimes, even thousands of dollars, on higher echelon, exotically curated dishes, showcased by an industry-award winning, top-level performing chef.
Conversely, as money is spent on food, which ultimately ends up wasted, 1 in 7 Americans do not have enough to eat. Therefore, effectively empowering individuals and families, through education and information about food and nutrition, along with exposure to agricultural sciences and ultimately, empathy for our neighbor, are just a few ways through which all societies, but specifically Americans, can assist in reducing the millions of tons of food wasted annually.
Respecting ourselves first, along with our fellow Americans, is a small, yet pivotal turn, aiding us to respect our food supply overall, in the United States of America. According to theworldcounts.com, at least 1 billion people can be feed by the 40 million tons of food wasted in our country. For a country populated with more than 328.2 million people, that is at least 3 meals per day (and then some). In our country alone, we clearly can reduce the statistics of people facing hunger, from 1 in 7, to zero.