Panel discusses social and ecological impact of discarded food
THE SANTA CLARA
April 9, 2015
One man’s trash may be another’s treasure, but what about his dinner?
The Food and Agribusiness Institute sponsored a panel discussion on food waste, and, as moderator and assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences Department Christopher Bacon put it, “the challenge of creating sustainable food systems and ending hunger in our lifetime.”
The event, “Local Food Security: Recovering Food for Families” as part of a series of lectures on topics related to food, agribusiness, and social and environmental responsibility, was held on Tuesday.
The panelists, including two Santa Clara students, spoke about the gravity of food waste not just across our country, but within local communities, and about how they have worked to combat the pressing matter and create a solution.
According to Wendi Shafir, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency, an astonishing 40 percent of all food is wasted in America.
However, more than just food is squandered — energy and resources are also tossed away in the process.
Food production uses up to 10 percent of the country’s energy and 80 percent of its freshwater, which takes a heavy toll on California in light of the current drought ravaging the state.
Diane Tye Zapata of Second Harvest Food Bank focused on the impact of food waste on the local community and discussed its devastating consequences.
“One in 10 of your neighbors are hungry,” Zapata said. “Forty percent of those people are children. And hunger is (very) invisible in our community. You can be right next to someone who is hungry, who is struggling.”
While much of the panel was dedicated to discussing the problem, it also placed a spotlight on organizations working to cut down on waste, such as Second Harvest Food Bank, Revive Foods and the Santa Clara chapter of the Food Recovery Network.
These organizations gather unsold and unused produce and food and redistribute them to various centers around the Bay Area.
Revive Foods even takes uneaten fruit and uses it to create affordable and healthy food products like jam.
While knowledge and cultural barriers may exist, breaking them down is not impossible.
Zapata addressed several basic steps to reduce food waste and create more sustainable food systems.
“It comes down to three things,” she said. “Educate yourself, other people … Inspire change, talk about where we could be going together. And then advocate on behalf of those people who are struggling, who are hungry.”
Contact Maura Turcotte at firstname.lastname@example.org .