Mon 28 November 2016 | -- (permalink)
A symptom of a throwaway culture – this is what Pope Francis calls global food waste in his World Food Day message. Every country and company as well as man, woman and child can be considered guilty of food waste at one point or another of their lives! Staggering Food Waste Just how guilty? In the United States alone, an estimated 40 to 50 percent of food production never makes it to the dining table, much less to stomachs. Approximately 43 billion pounds a year will be tossed out by retail establishments because the food is considered damaged, past its sell date, and generally just unsaleable while food service establishments waste another 86 billion pounds a year.
But households beat both retail and food service industries in food waste – an estimated 136 million tons of still-edible food items are disposed of by consumers according to the Environmental Protection Agency. When combined, the food waste may well feed several hundred million hungry individuals for a year in famine-struck countries in Africa and Asia, not to mention the hungry in the United States itself. Just think of the food going to waste when so many individuals are going hungry, sadly.
Surprising Finds in the Dumpster It’s no wonder then that the scene of dumpster divers enthusiastically rooting through trash is becoming an increasingly common sight in many cities of the United States. There is, indeed, treasure to be found in trash! For first-time dumpster divers, the surprising finds start with the ease with which the activity can be enjoyed so much so that it can become quite addictive. Hopping into a commercial dumpster can be easy especially when you have the right tools and assistance while the trash receptacle itself can be surprisingly cleaner than expected despite the popular notion of unhygienic conditions. The trick is in finding and choosing the better-looking containers of the lot before diving in for their hidden treasures. And then there are the finds in dumpsters – almost everything necessary for food survival can be sourced from trash. Think of frozen dinners and gourmet treats, fruits and vegetables, dairy products like eggs – just imagine finding 51 dozen eggs – and yogurt, and baked goodies, among others. You can even go grocery shopping, to speak, by dumpster diving although we must say that it takes more than a bit of luck, patience and perseverance.
Safety Concerns Are the food items found in dumpsters safe for human consumption? After all, these have been thrown in the trash where rodents reside along with a wide range of potentially hazardous organisms. Yes and no. It depends on the kind of food being picked up from the trash so most dumpster divers will use their nose, their knowledge of food, and their instincts to separate the safe from the not-so-safe food items. Keep in mind that many of the food thrown out the backdoor are the same type of food displayed in glass cases and served on the tables when you walk in the front door. The main difference: The former was deemed inappropriate for sale because of a physical flaw – bruises on an apple, a day before the sell date, and smaller than usual bell peppers, for example – and was then thrown into the trash.