In America, 40% of food gets wasted each year, which amounts to roughly 58 billion meals. At the same time, roughly 1 in 9 Americans are struggling with hunger (Rescuing Leftover Cuisine). Just as there is a large wealth gap in America, there is a large gap in food access. Food is wasted or lost at many stages of the food production process. It can be wasted during farming, during food processing, in stores, markets, restaurants, and in homes. Strict retail standards for foods contributes to the disposal of large quantities of edible items. The amount of food that is available in markets and restaurants differs greatly from the amount of food that is produced on a daily basis, and one of the reasons for this disparity is the strict cosmetic standards that food items must pass in order to be sold.
Many startup organizations such as Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods aim to sell these “ugly” food products at a lower cost which not only reduces our food waste but also provides fresh produce at a cost that is affordable for everyone, including those who are struggling to sustain themselves. If you are looking for a way to cut down on your food waste, you are not short of options! There are many things you can do at home, such as being mindful of how much food to cook, how to properly store your food, buying the right amount of food each time you’re at the grocery store, understanding “sell by” dates as opposed to expiration dates, and many other daily practices. Outside the home, supporting “ugly food” businesses is a great way to help cut down on food waste.