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Samuel Sillen: Why can’t food waste go to those who need it?

fast food garbage

fast food garbage

To the editor:

More than 36 million tons of food waste are thrown away each year in America, a total amounting to almost 9,500 full garbage barges.

Although most of the food wasted comes from individual households, a substantial amount derives from restaurants and hotels. With families struggling to get by in an already harsh job climate, in addition to the recent government shutdown, I find it staggering that businesses that produce food don’t donate their waste to the less privileged.

I try to look at the situation from the view of businesses and understand the reasoning and fear of doing so — the slim chance that the donated food could go bad and cause someone receiving the food to become sick, eventually sparking a lawsuit.

However, with the amount of people homeless, I see no excuse for state governments not to mandate as well as organize the donation of excess food.

Focusing on the state of Massachusetts, I was cheered initially to hear that by 2016, all commercial food waste must be hauled off to an anaerobic digestion plant, where hundreds of thousands of tons of food waste will be converted into energy.

I am pleased to see my home state crafting new innovative technology to try and put to work the potential of wasted food. However, I feel the emphasis should be on distributing food to the people who need it, not using it to create a useful energy source.

Upon further review, it amazes me that we have the intelligence and ability to create plants designed to turn wasted food into energy. However, we do have the capability to distribute such food to people who would view it as no less than gold.

Samuel Sillen


Legacy Comments1

Burning food for energy should be our last resort considering the very low return on energy, material, labors and water that were invested in the food. The excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration on supermarket shelves causes waste. Why not let the consumer perform the perishables rotation in the supermarket by offering him purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates? There is a new GS1 DataBar global standard that enables an automatic incentive offering application for fresh food close to its expiration. The “End Grocery Waste” application, which is based on GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue and makes fresh food affordable for all families while effectively reducing the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste site. Rod, Chicago, IL

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