I think it’s a mortal sin for us Catholics to waste food, especially for recent immigrant Catholics. We boomers heard frequently from our parents, that we can’t waste food because they had lived through the depression and also because of the starving Biafrans, or Armenians. Somehow, though, the message did not catch hold. Americans waste more food per person, 612 pounds in 2017 than any other country in the world except Australia. Australians have us beat pretty soundly. They wasted 792 pounds each.
Part of the reason for this in the U.S. (besides that there are too many Protestants here and not enough immigrants) maybe because our food is too cheap. U.S. data from the World Bank shows that U.S. consumers devote a lower share of their spending to food than any other consumers in the world. Or maybe we’re too rich.
“And yet, those lower prices don’t bring us more food security. In the United States, 11 percent of the population lives with moderate or severe food insecurity.” (1) In Canada, where they waste less than half the amount of food that we waste, the food insecurity number is only 4.4 percent. “Canadians spend nine percent of GDP on food. Americans spend only six. We spend less and waste more.”
Another point of view that’s more opinionated is that we don’t eat good food. Maybe it’s the cheap stuff that is making us fat and unhealthy even after we waste so much. Maybe we should waste even more. Maybe we should eat more expensive food.
Maybe farmers are too productive. Maybe farmers should be paid better.
I don’t want to try and guess what the problem with those Australians is though.
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org or phone-354-6605.