May 16, 2013

"What happens to the 40% of food produced but never eaten in the U.S. each year..."

"... the mounds of perfect fruit passed over by grocery store shoppers, the tons of meat and milk left to expire?"

30 comments:

SGT Ted said...

Notice they don't talk about how much it costs, yet they go on to speculate, with no numbers or calculations, that they will see 18% return? When a 10% margins is what most businesses are happy to see?

Ya right. This is another green boondoggle and I bet this shuts down within 2 years for lack of money.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I watched Whisky Galore (1949) the other night and the booze thieves are trying to make their escape and their truck runs out of gas so they pour some booze in the tank and off they go.

Pretty funny, actually.

Just wanted to say that.

Nonapod said...

Gotta do something with all that excess biomass, might as well be something useful.

It's really a strange and wonderful era of plenty we live in where the biggest health issue amongst the poorest classes is not starvation, but obesity. I can't think of another time or place in human history where that was the case.

Hagar said...

Most businesses operate on 2 to 3% of volume.

ndspinelli said...

Ralph's is where The Dude shopped. When arrested by the "reactionary" police in Malibu, his only ID was his Ralph's card. I also have a Ralph's card in my wallet. I'm even prouder now.

Tibore said...

"Kroger Co.'s anaerobic digester in Compton..."

For a second there that sounded like some sort of health fad professional. "Hi. I'm an anaerobic digester, and I'm here to help you with your diet."

Issob Morocco said...

I know....

Peter said...

I thought grocery stores marked down food as it was nearing its expiration date. Doesn't economic theory say that just about anything useful will sell at the market clearing price?

Or is this more a problem of the upscale chains, that their customers won't buy bruised fruit or soon-to-expire steaks even if the price is close to zero? If so, why not offer it at near-zero prices to their employees? Esp. with meat approaching (but not beyond) its sell-by date, those who bought it could freeze it if there was no immediate use for it.

In other words, it's just hard to believe that there would be (or has to be) that much waste.

SteveR said...

I can only imagine the crap circles they had to jump through with the Cal EPA and South Coast Air Quality Management District. Oh yeah and CEQA, the preserver of the old and inefficient.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Once a week our trash hauler collects "yard waste." That's bundled sticks and such but also lawn clippings.

A surprisingly large number of homeowners put as many as four or five trash cans worth of freshly cut grass to the curb every week.

I was curious so I called the trash hauler. The guy said everything gets composted.

I'll bet that's a mighty hot pile they've got going there.

edutcher said...

It's not a waste because it's "green" energy.

Does Holder know?

PS In Mexico, after a bullfight, the meat from the dead bull is given to the poor.

What happens to the dead matador, I can't say.

MadisonMan said...

Better than landfilling it, I guess.

geokstr said...

At Kroger in Atlanta, anything perishable is marked down as it approaches its "sell-by" date. This is often much earlier than its "use-by" since it wants to avoid potential lawsuits.

At the sell-by date, if not sold, they toss it in the dumpster, tons and tons of meat, chicken, daity products, bakery, prepared foods from the deli, all of it. I asked them:

1) since much of it doesn't sell at the paltry 10-20% they mark it down, why don't they start marking it down several days before that date and discount it further every day another 25% or more until it the sell-by date. Every time they do that, it almost all sells, and they'd be better off having some revenue for it than nothing. I was told that management feared that their customers would learn this trick and wait for lower prices and never buy the full priced items.

2) at the sell-to date, why don't you donate it to homeless organizations since if they use it immediately or freeze it, it's perfectly fine? Fear of lawsuits.

Robert Cook said...

"It's really a strange and wonderful era of plenty we live in where the biggest health issue amongst the poorest classes is not starvation, but obesity. I can't think of another time or place in human history where that was the case."

While it may comfort you to think poor people the world over are suffering the ills of having too much to eat, it's certainly not the case everywhere; there are plenty of people on the earth who do not have enough to eat every day or sanitary water to drink.

EMD said...

What happens to the dead matador, I can't say.

The usual.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Excess [aka wilting or expired but still good], fruits, vegetables and dairy products like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese etc all can be donated to local farmers or 4H club members.....as they do in our area

There are several local hog farmers who eagerly look forward to the monthly allotments of yogurt and cottage cheese. SO DO THE HOGS. You should see them come running when they know it is dairy week. The meat of those animals who are routinely dining on Yoplait, Knudsens, melted Umpqua ice cream and other quality dairy foods is so very very good. They also like the wilted vegetables.

Cows, chickens, pigs, lambs. All love this stuff. They don't turn up their noses at a wilted carrot or soggy celery.

Why spend thousands of dollars to make pennies of electricity when you can create delicious meals from items that would be thrown away.

Chip S. said...

What happens to the crusts that Republican ladies cut off their cucumber sandwiches?

Mitch H. said...

Doesn't economic theory say that just about anything useful will sell at the market clearing price?

Given time and a frictionless market, yes. But "sticky prices" (such as menu pricing, sunk-cost fallacious reasoning on the part of sellers, price-floor regulation on the part of governing bodies, etc) can set the price floor of a given good above the clearing price. This results in unsellable excess. In labor markets, this is known as "unemployment". If the good in question is perishable, it will not sell before expiring in these conditions.

As the window of perishability narrows, menu pricing and even labor costs can increase the spoilage loss. Yes, it does cost the grocer money to pay someone or somebodies to run around with a pricing gun continually marking down soon-to-expire goods. I think here in the Northeast, and possibly elsewhere, they're not allowed to mark down close-to-expiring dairy products at all.

Robert Cook said...

"What happens to the crusts that Republican ladies cut off their cucumber sandwiches?"

They're disposed of in a highly secure manner to insure no hungry people can get their hands on them.

EMD said...

They're disposed of in a highly secure manner to insure no hungry people can get their hands on them.

Like Abercrombie & Fitch clothes.

Calypso Facto said...

What happens to the crusts that Republican ladies cut off their cucumber sandwiches?

The IRS collects the crusts from tea parties for extra scrutiny.

Sigivald said...

40%?

Bullshit.

I knew it was bullshit just from a glance, and that it's an NRDC factoid merely confirms that it's bullshit - I literally can't think of a single claim of theirs that I've spot checked and not found at best deeply deceptive.

(Remember that "40% of food produced" includes not just easily-spoiled fruit and greens, but grains, root vegetables, and meat.

40%. Bullshit.

If you look into their report, they're slightly more honest than the Times, because the NRDC at least says "up to 40%", and then admits that that's variable by category, and that they're aggregating over US and ANZAC.

NRDC also doesn't provide any analysis of their methods, raw data, or anything else.

But one of their linked reports talks about the "waste" of crops that are simply left in the field because they turned out to be not worth enough to harvest in that particular year.

Why the hell should I worry about that?

Do they simply want everyone to spend more on food to "reduce waste", as if this "waste" was somehow evil-in-itself?

Screw those hippies.)

Alex said...

We're such a wealthy country that we can navel-gaze about these kind of things.

ricpic said...

India is now a food exporter but Cookie won't give up guilt tripping the evil rich in the West while a single person starves in one of his socialist paradises, such as Zimbabwe, once a food exporter too in the evil old Rhodesia days.

Robert Cook said...

ricpic, I'm not trying to guilt trip anybody. The truth is that tremendous amounds of food are wasted in various areas of the world and in other various areas of the world there are desperately poor and hungry people who do not have enough food.

A decent human being would feel bad about this reality in any event.

There simply has to be a will to put the excess food together with those who need it.

shirley elizabeth said...

I'm not buying the waste statistics here either. I know of four discount food stores within just five miles of my house that buys dented/dinged/going to expire/was frozen just before expire date groceries from the big chains and sell them off for cheap.

Thorley Winston said...

I’m going to go out on a limb and make two predictions:
1) The “40 percent of food that is grown is never eaten” factoid is based on the same shoddy work that was done to promote boondoggles like “green tourism” as an alternative to land development.

2) The 18 percent rate of return is based on some rather generous taxpayer subsidies without which they’d clearly be losing money.



Dust Bunny Queen said...

Robert Cook channels my mother...."Eat your vegetables, there are children starving in India"

So, what should we DO with the expired milk, cottage cheese, wilted romaine lettuce? By they time we ship it to India [as I always thought when a child] it would be too rotten to consider eating so what a stupid thing to say....Sorry Mom.

Should we NOT produce fresh fruits and vegetables here because people don't have broccoli in Africa? What is your suggestion? Lower the production of food to levels where it will become so expensive that people cannot afford to buy? Then the un-purchased goods and wastage will be even more. Just look at any urban bodega or rural grocery store for the results of higher prices.

ken in sc said...

I only buy meat when it is going out of date. I put it in the freezer and eat it when I need it.

I am an first world evil person.

ken in sc said...

Out of date milk can be used to make cheese. We once left a carton of milk in the refrigerator while we were away on vacation. When we came back, it was a solid block of blue cheese.