As Last Week Tonight host John Oliver suggests in the video above, what is more American than food waste? From farm to table to dump, Americans toss out up to a whopping 40 percent of it.
“Food waste is like the band Rascal Flatts,” jokes Oliver. “It can fill a surprising number of stadiums, even though many people consider it complete garbage.” It’s garbage for the climate too: Annual greenhouse gas emissions due to food waste add up to about twice the annual emissions of India.
Much of the dumping can be pinned to arbitrary sell-by dates and aesthetic criteria formally and informally governing the food that makes it to market. The Canadian regulatory text on apples, for example, runs upwards of 30 pages and covers everything from apple shape and firmness to hail injury and sunburn (which is apparently a thing that can happen to apples). Revising regulations like these and getting ugly produce onto the shelves could be a good first step toward curbing the waste trend.
There’s probably a food for thought joke to be made, but I’ll spare you.