Food Waste: Perspective from a Documentary

By Marie Clark

My first job involved hosting and cleaning up after kid’s birthday parties. Then, I had a job at a smoothie cafe where I prepped, cleaned up, and served food. My first on campus job involved working for a campus catering company serving, tearing down, and cleaning up dishes. While I have seen just a snippet of how food waste gets treated at restaurants and events, I understand that the public does not often see just how widespread this issue of excess is.

While exploring documentaries on Netflix, Global Waste: The Scandal of Food Waste caught my attention because the cover picture was of a man standing in front of a car-sized pile of green bananas. My initial thoughts were that this documentary was going to explore some statistics on how much food is wasted at restaurants or in the average household within the United States. This documentary provided the viewer a different looking glass into an alternate perspective of food waste.

I thought this was strictly going to look at one country’s food waste and expand it to the greater populations of the world. However, instead the documentary highlighted several different countries of the world and sectors where food waste occurs. Some of the highlights included:

  • Angélique Delahaye, a small-scale family run farm owner in France. She talks about the way insects affect her cucumber’s appearance but not their wholesomeness. She mentions how the farm throws away sometimes 20-30% of their produce because of how sellers won’t take ugly fruit.
  • Thomas Pocher, a hypermarket store manager in France, opens up about his store’s daily food waste of good and edible foods that just won’t sell to consumers because they are expiring today or don’t look perfect. He says, “Some of my workers can’t afford this butter, but we throw it away.”
  • Carlos Torres, an agricultural engineer at the Serrano group in Ecuador, describes how bananas for importing to several other countries are calibrated, washed, and packaged. He highlights the importance of blemish-free bananas and how it is decided where the bananas will be going next. For several bushels of bananas, they don’t even make it any further and are left for livestock to feed on.

The documentary continues on highlighting more stories of where food comes from and how consumer demands of impeccable appearance impact suppliers waste along the lines of production. I encourage you to watch the whole thing! Get to know some of the stories of people that work in food production. Find a greater appreciation for where your food comes from and how wholesome even imperfect produce is. Consider how you can impact making less food waste in your own daily living. Educate yourself on what is happening to food waste  behind the scenes.

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