Food Waste from Student Perspectives and it’s global effects

As everyone knows, we take food waste extremely seriously here at Produce Mate. Whether it’s domestically or commercially produced, we think that food waste is one of the bigger problems that we need to look into when trying to find solutions for climate change. By eliminating the food that is wasted, we would be able to reduce the number of greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere by up to 11%. This is a tremendous amount for a solution that feels so simple and logical. Less food being thrown away, who would want to go against that?

             This week, we’re happy to showcase the works of a couple students from the University of Portland, Stefanie Marecek and the other anonymous. Not only do they offer some cold hard facts about food waste, but they offer a reflective perspective on what food waste means to the individual and the whole world. Whether it’s the correlation between food waste and Coronavirus, food waste in the US, where to start looking for solutions, or some examples of changes that some businesses have made, the students touch on it.

            The harsh reality is that a lot of us don’t pay as much attention to the food we eat as we should. For something that we interact with every day, it tends to go under the radar. That’s why these pieces are so wonderful. Not only does it force you to pay attention to the problem of how we perceive food, but it also calls for change that will help to improve the quality of life for everyone. Below you can find both articles.   

Stefanie Marecek

Eat With Your Belly, Not Your Eyes

“Sure, I’ll take it home and eat it later”, meanwhile there are 3 other to-go containers in

the refrigerator. All of which are surrounded by produce that is going bad, you’ve forgotten what was in the white foam container and you unknowingly started your own science experiment. Food waste is a growing problem in the United States, a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting any better with the Coronavirus pandemic that is enveloping the nation. While we as a whole in the United States looks at the grocery store shelves and see an abundance of food, we buy in bulk and often buy more then we need. This trend is not only wasting our own hard-earned money, but also wasting food. Food that could be going to people in need. When that food is wasted it gets delivered to the local landfill, which actually equates to 22 percent of solid waste inside landfills (Royte, Elizabeth, 2020). Around the world there are people who go hungry. They are not sure where their next meal will come from, and who go days without eating because of their lack of funds to purchase the product to begin with. While in America we stress purchase an abundance of food and toilet paper only to later find it has spoiled and needs to be discarded. There are multiple agencies that are in the process of coming up with a solution for this growing problem, a problem that is slowly adding to global warming. The following will give you some insights on what can be done and how each of us can do our part in controlling the food loss and waste of the nation and what this crisis is doing to the environment.

Here’s a little history, in this last year the numbers for people who are food insecure have spiked for one reason, Coronavirus. Being food insecure is not having enough food or having a lack of stability when it comes to regular meals and amounts. In 2019 the number was 37 million people, 11 million of which were children (Cooper, Ryan, 2020). That number is already a crazy high number, 11 million children who are not sure when they will get food, or when their bellies will be full. Since Covid-19 reared its ugly head in March of this year that number has spiked to an outrageous number of 54 million people, 18 million of which are children (Cooper, Ryan, 2020). That number has increased because not only has small businesses been required to shut down so people are out of jobs, but also because the spread of the virus being so easy and the living situations for farm workers has made it so many workers cannot come to work (Royte, Elizabeth, 2020). To top that off because travel has been so difficult for most people this year the work visas given to people to allow them to come to the United States for work has been denied making it harder for farmers to be able to plow and harvest their crops. The increase of product waste right when it begins is rising as well. Prior to Coronavirus there were farmers and growers that left close to half of their crops because they weren’t “pretty” enough for the stores (Royte, Elizabeth, 2020). Now imagine that the scenario was when there was an abundance of helping hands to help plow the fields. The farmers are struggling to get the crops harvested before they start to rot and wilt.

While we have all gone out to eat, or even at Thanksgiving, a holiday designed to unbutton your pants and eat a little more, there is so much food being wasted. Wasted meaning going into trash cans to later be taken to the landfill which in 2017 was 40.7 million tons of food waste in the United States alone (Cooper, Ryan, 2020). Globally that number is 1.3

billion tons of food waste each year, that number equals out to one third of food that is produced for people to eat around the world. While that food waste fills the landfill, it doesn’t just sit there either just disappearing, oh no, it creates a harmful gas that contributes to global warming. That’s right these two worldwide crises go hand in hand. We slow one we are able to slow another, and once we control one, we can control the other. Eventually leading to the end of world hunger and global warming. The food waste sitting inside the landfill emits greenhouse gas in the United States alone to equivalate to 37 million cars running at the same time (Testani, Christopher, 2020). That’s just in the United States, if we turned food waste into its own country, it would be the third highest country contributing to global warming, behind the United States and China (Cooper, Ryan, 2020). Now how do we slow down the amount of food being wasted? One way is to start where it all begins, the producers of the product- farmers. Another option is simply education, with education we have the power to change the future and stop the increase of waste in general.

As previously mentioned, farmers and growers left close to half of their crops due to multiple reasons, but that number contributes to the large food waste number and if we can lower the percentage of food wasted at the start we have a better chance of lowering the average not only nationally but globally as well. With different ways to ensure that the product being produced would be bought and sold and not wasted we could cut down major wastes of not only food, but the energy and recourses that goes into harvesting and distributing the product as a whole.

While stopping waste at the start is a good place to being, we also have to look at education. Just because we lower the amount of food being wasted during production and

transportation doesn’t mean there won’t be waste out in society. That’s where education steps in and lends a helping hand. Education will give inside to just how much food we really are wasting and how we can stop the continuation of wastefulness. Education is power and power is how the world keeps advancing, knowledge is how we were able to find solutions to problems we once thought were impossible to get around. Yet we were able to be successful and that is what we will do with food loss and waste. With education and helpful tips and tricks to stop over buying and in turn wasting while at home we will be one step closer to helping slow food waste and loss completely.

Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon decided to try and make a difference in the food waste world by tracking the waste of the employee’s food for an entire year. During that year they weighed the food that was being wasted after meals. They informed their employees’ that no repercussions would be taken on them for wasting food. This was just to see if the company could, as a whole, lower the amount of food waste. They took the left-over food and weighed it as employees were tossing the scrape food away. The case study was done at two different Intel locations where the employee tracked the waste before disposing of it completely. The entire process was done electronically and recorded taking a total of 4 minutes start to finish. The specifics were documents like the type of containers, reason for waste and the food item. The stakeholders in the food waste prevention case study were interested in reducing daily food waste by 50 percent to help lower the overall solid waste going to local landfills. While recording the weights of food waste daily their hope was to raise awareness and prevent food waste and reach the goal by the end of the study period, which was in this case one year. Over the course of that entire year the overall waste weight was dropped by 1,371 lbs. Intel was able

to lower pre-consumer food waste by 47 percent, and lower overall cost per meal by 13.2 percent. Although they didn’t reach their goal exactly, they were very close and continue to follow the same guidelines for food prep and portion sizes.
(Yurtoğlu, Nadir, 2010)

Food waste is a problem all over the world, but like everything else the United States has to be number one! The average American family of 4 throws away roughly $1,500 worth of food a year (Cooper, Ryan, 2020), multiply that by 18, see what you could buy yourself with the money just being wasted over the time it takes for a parent to raise and support a family. According to research the healthier you eat the more you waste, produce spoils faster making it more likely to have to dispose of the food. To prevent adding to the national average only buy what you need, cook what you have and use all that you can before disposing of the excess. If you can freeze your leftovers and reheat them for a later time. Check what you have before going to the grocery story, and only get what is on your list, try to limit impulse purchasing. Food waste isn’t just about not wasting food, it’s about slowing down the rate of global warming, trying to preserve the world we live in for a little longer. Maybe one day we won’t have to worry about wasting food at all.

Second Article about quinoa

When you think of Peru, most people would gravitate to the fact that there lies one of the great wonders of the world- Machu Picchu. But what a lot of people fail to recognize is many underlining issues within the country itself. The topic that I want to bring to your attention today is the concept of the price inflation/high demand of quinoa in Peru and how it has affected many impoverished Peruvians. If you have not known of this beforehand, Peru is known for having an excess amount of not just varieties of potatoes, but also known for its quinoa. From what I’ve recently taken notice of is how Peruvians have been deeply affected by this; for them, what once was known as poor people’s food, is now known for being a highly popular grain that has gained the attention of many Americans and people across the world. I’m not just saying this based on the articles I’ve read, but also from the experiences my own parents faced, and how it all changed for them over the years. All across Peru, there has been a shortage of producing quinoa, due to its high demand in many other countries- especially America. A demand for quinoa was being upheld, and the supply could not keep pace. The social issue of dealing with this shortage has not just affected the price inflation of quinoa in Peru, but also the competitiveness amongst other countries now creating their own quinoa farms. To imagine the changing perspective of quinoa to now becoming the center of attention in many countries is surprising to see. Although you would this attention would be mainly beneficial for the Peruvians, also comes with a lot of challenging outcomes for the Peruvian people. The discussion that I want to bring to you today is not just putting the focus on how the quinoa Boom has affected many impoverished farmers within Peru, but also what actions are being placed to properly handle this crisis.

Not many news sources in America are covering this issue for quinoa, mainly because they don’t have to worry about the production process themselves, since Peru is the main source of quinoa production. In the news article, ​Against the Grain​, they mentioned how just between the year 2000-2014, they reached an all-time peak in the average price of quinoa exports from Peru & Bolivia- it more than tripled to $6-7 per kilogram. It also mentioned that the average quinoa consumption in Peru fell as quinoa prices rose, but at a steady pace. From what little we’ve heard about this issue, there is much need to be said of the brief history of how quinoa abrupted so suddenly that later led to exports all across the world. From what I’ve discovered in this article- ​The quinoa Boom Goes Bust in the Andes​– was that as quinoa gained International attention, so did the concept of the quinoa Boom; this means that although some small-scale Peruvian farmers benefited from this Boom, there also came a lot of concerns with the affordability price for the Peruvians living in rural areas, the high demand for quinoa, and the competitiveness of outside sources that now began producing quinoa of their own. quinoa hadn’t gotten this much attention before; this only started in the 1970s, when eventually quinoa became known as a good source of plant protein and fiber- in other words, seen as a healthier option.

I recall even the stories I hear from my mother describing to me how quinoa was seen as a poor peoples’ food while living in the rural areas of Lima, Peru. She used to say to me that that was the only food they- her family- could mainly afford, and her classmates would even make fun of her for eating such poor-quality food. But it was only until people got creative with it that made quinoa such a booming hit! You can now see it in salads, hot drinks, traditional dishes….the list goes on.

The main reason this issue took my notice was how this high demand for quinoa takes a toll on the Peruvian citizens who have made it themselves. They’re the ones who produced this valuable grain that has gotten attention all across the world. And yet it is the people- who have first benefited from this pure grain- who are now becoming the most affected by it. I mean the irony in that is just hard to believe. Another big factor was how this issue affected the ecosystem within Peru and their quinoa farms. Did you know that quinoa, at one point, had over 60 varieties of its kind? Yeah, crazy to imagine. How come we don’t hear about this as much? That’s mainly because of the international demand for quinoa, farmers were encouraged to narrow the options down to ONLY 20 varieties just to meet the consumer demand. And you want to know how this has affected Peru? The ​Global Citizen​ article on quinoa had this to say- ​The reduced variety impacts the overall health of the ecosystem and negatively affects the environment. ​As​ well, since these quinoa farms are grown in higher altitudes, they may be exposed to bugs that are migrating to that area due to high-temperature changes and Global Warming- these factors affect the speed production process of quinoa being exported for consumers across the world. This process- of quinoa’s impact on the ecosystem and the sociopolitical aspect- has been noticed by first-hand farmers who’ve shed light on their own experiences with the quinoa Boom within recent years.

Located on the southeastern side of Peru, the Puno region (impoverished area) is where Mr. Bautista along with many other farmers plant their quinoa farms- this location is on high-altitudes for the quinoa to develop properly and naturally. Mr. Bautista’s story is just one of the many hard-working farmers trying to make ends meet in the quinoa Business. He touches briefly on his experience of when the quinoa Boom struck, he and his family tried their best to keep up with the production pace. Although their farmland was small, they were determined to produce as much as they could, because this was the time for a new change in their lives. And even though Mr. Bautista managed to benefit a lot from the quinoa Boom, he also experienced a bunch of challenging obstacles: keeping up with the production pace, the competitiveness, and the rise in price for his nearby neighbors. Although most main-center areas like Lima are becoming more developed, there still remain many other areas- more traditional- that are left still in poverty. Mr. Bautista had his farm passed down through generations of his family, and he took this opportunity- enter the quinoa boom- for his family to live a better life, as well as to make his past generations proud. Eventually, at one point he had to turn to the aid of other farmers, for his production pace was failing to meet the expectations of the consumers. It was then that Mr. Bautista joined the​ Ayacucho’s quinoa producers’ association (APOQUA) to stay afloat in business. He mentioned how it made it easier for him to group farming lands with the other farmers to take advantage of the rising prices; the process ran much more smoothly, and at the same time, they were all helping one another out and benefiting from the quinoa Boom. If it wasn’t for the APOQUA in Peru, many smaller owned farmers would lose out on the quinoa boom and would eventually have to sell their land because the competitiveness would increase over the coming years- which it has!

As for solutions in resolving this high-demand issue of quinoa- affecting the Peruvian citizens/farmers, price inflation, and competitive markets- some have thought that joining associations like APOQUA would help the local farmers stay in business; others have thought that by leaving it to the export productions across other countries would help subside the crisis for the time being. Although both viewpoints seem reasonable to their own benefit, I decided to have a counter perspective by asking my mom what she thinks of the two main views. She was hesitant at first because they both were solutions benefiting either in favor of the local farmers or by benefiting the consumers by having more access to quinoa from other countries. She finally went in favor of joining associations like the APOQUA to help benefit the local farmers, because she had family who related to the quinoa business. I guess you could say her answer was a bit biased, but not entirely because I also agree with her decision. Ok given that I am also Peruvian, I could also be counted as a biased vote, but I also haven’t been “around” to know the actual lives of these farmers that live in rural areas. I’m in their favor because I can only imagine how struggling it is to keep up with the fast-paced quinoa business. Especially if you start by not having much business, to then trying to keep up with the booming business, only to be ended right back where you started because the pace of production just got out of hand. It can be tough and challenging, and I especially wouldn’t want my grain to lose its roots to where it originated from. Since these other countries started producing quinoa a lot faster because they have more advantage from their country’s privilege, then that already in itself is unfair for the Peruvians who’ve originally grown the grain to be taken away from them just because their country area is at a lesser advantage. The original quinoa farmland owners have the right to be able to take charge by forming associations like the APOQUA to become less negatively affected by the quinoa Boom business spreading across the receiving countries.

The best form of action to handle the quinoa crisis in Peru is to form more joining associations to help assist farmers- mainly living in the Puno region- to stay afloat during the quinoa Boom business rather than go out of business (within small-scale farms). This tactic will not only benefit the smaller farm owners to keep their existing lands but also benefit from the Boom itself to help their families. They can worry less about the negative impact and help each other out with growing the quinoa at steadier paces. Of course, other countries like France, Sweden, and Denmark will continue to produce quinoa of their own, but one thing’s for sure is that they can never create the same varieties as there once were of the local Peruvian quinoa.

Huh, I guess the potatoes known in Peru aren’t the only foods with many varieties that make Peru so unique. (:

Work Cited (Stefanie)

Recycle Track Systems. “Food Waste in America in 2020: Statistics + Facts.” Further With Food, 2020, furtherwithfood.org/resources/food-waste-america-2020-statistics-facts/.

Cooper, Ryan. “Food Waste in America: Facts and Statistics (2020 Update).” Rubicon, 25 Aug. 2020, quinoa.rubicon.com/blog/food-waste-facts/.

EPA. “Reducing Wasted Food At Home.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019, quinoa.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.

Royte, Elizabeth. “Food Waste and Food Insecurity Rising amid Coronavirus Panic.” National Geographic, 31 Mar. 2020, quinoa.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/food-waste- insecurity-rising-amid-coronavirus-panic/.

Testani, Christopher. “Food Waste.” NRDC, 6 July 2020, quinoa.nrdc.org/food-waste.

Yurtoğlu, Nadir. “Http%3a%2f%2fwww.Historystudies.net%2fdergi%2f%2fbirinci-Dunya- Savasinda-Bir-Asayis-Sorunu-Sebinkarahisar-Ermeni-isyani20181092a4a8f.Pdf.” History Studies International Journal of History, vol. 10, no. 7, 2018, pp. 241–264., doi:10.9737/hist.2018.658.

Work Cited (quinoa)

Zuckerman, Catherine. “Portland Community College.” PCCLogin|PortlandCommunityCollege​,Feb. 2014, web-a-ebscohost-com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ehost/viewarticle/render?data=dGJyMPPp44rp2%2FdV0+njisf k5Ie45u2K8uLsfKzj34HspOOA7enyWK+nrU+tqK5Krpa2UrCuuEy2ls5lpOrweezp33vy3+2G59q7R bCrtEqyrrRLtpzqeezdu33snOJ6u9fugKTq33+7t8w+3+S7UbGur022qrE+5OXwhd%2Fqu37z4uqM4 +7y.

McDonell, Emma. “The quinoa Boom Goes Bust in the Andes.” ​NACLA,12 Mar. 2018, nacla.org/news/2018/03/12/quinoa-boom-goes-bust-andes.

“Against the Grain. “The Economist​, The Economist Newspaper, 21 May 2016, quinoa.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2016/05/21/against-the-grain.

Sanchez, Erica, and Sophie Maes. “The quinoa Boom Helped Peru’s Farmers, But There’s A Catch.” Global Citizen​, Global Citizen, 21 Aug. 2018, quinoa.globalcitizen.org/en/content/peru-farmers-livelihoods-quinoa-crop/.

Bellemare, Marc F., et al. “Foods and Fads: The Welfare Impacts of Rising quinoa Prices in Peru.” World Development,Pergamon, 23 Aug. 2018, quinoa.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0305750X18302419.

Long, Yu. “Superfoods’ Dark Side: Increasing Vulnerability of quinoa Farmers in Bolivia.” ​Global Food Health and Society,22 Jan. 2019, web.colby.edu/st297-global18/2019/01/22/superfoods-dark-side-increasing-vulnerability-of-quinoa-far mers-in-bolivia/.

https://quinoa.youtube.com/watch?v=NKiyN8piMu4​ (Primary Source- Interview)

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