The Vast Waste Land

While the biotech industry’s PR flacks intone stern warnings that we must deploy their genetically-modified “seed products” to stave off world hunger, the real problem is food waste and political barriers to distribution. Food waste in particular: in the US, over 121 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year, largely because market chains deem it not sufficiently movie-star sexy to sell.

I see this several times a week from my window, as I watch the minions of asmall supermarket across the street from us toss ripe fruits and vegetables into the dumpster. Often, they don’t even bother to throw it quite into the dumpster, and it lands on the open lids (they are always open, no doubt at the request of the local flies):


But when their aim is better, the dumped food makes up a good part of the dumpster’s burden:


This happens even though people are begging for food on the street barely a block away.

Though there are programs such as Second Harvest in our region, no one at the market, as far as I can tell, has thought of doing anything with this good but too-perfectly-ripe food except to throw it away.

Guess I’ll go over and talk with the manager, whom I know, and see whether we can figure something out.

There is no food shortage. Only a shortage of compassion and common sense.

About Rick Risemberg

Rick was born in Argentina but grew up in Los Angeles, and has lived most of his life in Hollywood. He also spent several months living in Montmartre, in Paris, France, one of the most delightful as well as effective human scale communities anywhere, and now resides in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, a high-density and eminently walkable neighborhood where nearly his every need is within a twenty-minute stroll of the apartment. He maintains the Bicycle Fixation Webzine and Urban Ecology Forum; you may see them You may visit portfolios of his writing, photography, and web design work at