Dear Next President,
An alarming amount of food is being wasted, at the same time that millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table. In grocery stores and households alike, food is often thrown away if it is past its expiration date, but much more often it is for seemingly arbitrary reasons. These can include that the food was nearing its expiration date but had not reached it, the food did not get bought before a new shipment, the sell-by date was purposely set too early, the food was purposely overstocked, or it did not look aesthetically pleasing. Whatever the reason, the cycle of food production and consumption is skewed.
When mass amounts of food are thrown away, they sit in a landfill. Food that is trapped this way without air as it decomposes creates methane, also known as greenhouse gas. One item of food would not be a problem, but on a large scale, this directly contributes to climate change. In addition to harming the environment, throwing away edible food wastes labor, natural resources, time, and money that went into the production of the food in the first place. In addition, the average household wastes about a quarter of the food bought each year, which could amount to thousands of dollars in the trash. This kind of food waste, on such a massive scale, has negative effects all around. So why let it happen?
Luckily, there are organizations like Feeding America already taking action. They aim to redirect the food that gets wasted into food banks, which feed the homeless and food-insecure. Providing such organizations with money would help their efforts. That being said, these organizations aim to fix a broken system, but the best option would be to fix the system. Addressing the root causes of why and how food is wasted would help to mitigate its effects. This includes fixing the confusion of expiration dates. Companies should be required to regulate expiration dates, which should be based on the tested longevity of a product. Grocery stores should only stop selling food that has reached its expiration date, and no sooner. Stores should also regulate how much they stock, so that the maximum amount of food gets sold. Lastly, as consumers, we should all make a conscious effort to minimize the excess food we throw away.
Nobody needs the detriments that come from food waste, and because food is part of our everyday lives, the effort to fix them should have much more attention. I hope that you can make this happen.