Taking It Personally
Tis the season for glorious gluttony. For the fortunate, foodstuffs and sweetmeats shall abound, filling our groaning boards and expanding our waistlines as we chow down at family gatherings and holiday parties. Not to put a damper on the festivities, but it is sobering to pause and consider how much grub we squander as a matter of course.
According to the figures I’ve seen, nearly half of the food produced in the United States is never ingested and almost all of those unused comestibles end up in a landfill. Meanwhile, more than 40 million Americans, nearly 90,000 of them in the Hudson Valley, are struggling to get enough good food eat. I know. It’s the old “Eat your brussels sprouts, there are starving people in (place here)” cliche, but vittles are easy to take for granted when you don’t have to worry about ‘em.
My family’s 40-by-60-foot garden generates an astounding amount of sustenance. What the wily whistle pigs (aka ground hogs), deer and chipmunks kindly leave for us keeps us up to our double chins in vegetables and herbs during growing season. What we don’t fork into our faces, we store. My youngest son works for Migliorelli Farm, a 2,000-acre operation in Tivoli that supplies eateries, retailers, its own stands, and markets in Rhinebeck, Kingston and New York City. A peek at the contents of one truckload of Mig’s goods drives home how much food one farm can provide, and the Hudson Valley is blessed with many.
It’s not hard to see waste everywhere all year round, from stuff discarded by restaurants, supermarkets, shops and stands to perfectly good leftovers tossed into the trash. Half of all wasted food occurs at home. Chew on this: The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans throw away about a pound per person per day, or about $2,275 per year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. According to the anti-hunger organization Feebackglobal.org, all of the world’s approximately one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of all the food that is wasted in just the U.S., U.K., and Europe.