The Growing Problem of Rotting Food in America

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030. Currently, about 20 percent of the fruits and vegetables grown on farms in America does not make it to tables. In other words, about 6 billion pounds of fresh produce goes unsold each year with most of it being left in the field to rot.

Part of the problem lies with conditions that are beyond most people’s control such as the weather, pests, diseases, market prices, and labor shortages. A large share of it is because of the policies within the United States Department of Agriculture that forces retailers to sell produce that complies with strict cosmetic standards. Therefore, farmers have to plant a larger crop to make sure that they have enough to sell and make their living.

Some apps have been created that allow cooks and farmers to connect when the farmer has food that they cannot use. Some of these apps include Love Food Hate Waste, Rainbow, Waste No Food and Food Cowboy.

There are ways that food not currently harvested can be used. For instance, Salem Harvest in the Williamette Valley of Oregon uses a network of volunteers to harvest food from 42 farms and then gives the food to food banks which distribute it to feeding programs for the hungry. Other programs like the Agricultural Clearance Program in Ohio pay farmers 20 cents a pound to bring the food to the food bank. While that may not seem like a large payment, it at least lets the farmer’s break even.

There are several problems with getting food to where it can be used to feed hungry Americans. First, is the logistics of taking food from fields to food banks. Secondly, most states do not offer farmers any money for the food and they cannot afford to harvest it for free.

There is an easy solution to this problem, however, as states and the federal government can change the tax code so that farmers can write the donated food off their taxes. At the moment, they do not get any tax breaks.

 

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