By Jean Blish Siers *
I begin 2015 with a big problem: A third of a bag of kettle chips lurks in my pantry, left over from holiday celebrations with friends and family. First, please note that there are some left over, which is impressive because they are truly my guilty pleasure! Second, I should confess that it’s not an ordinary bag, but a Costco-sized bag, enormous and filled with oily, salty delight.
Like many of you, I start the New Year hoping to eat better (at least better than I’ve been eating the last few weeks!). But what do I do with those kettle chips which don’t fit my renewed commitment to clean living? I spend my days working hard to keep food from going to waste. Sure, Society of St. Andrew focuses on fresh produce, those fruits and vegetables that many folks simply don’t have access to. Since starting this job more than two years ago, though, I have become pretty fanatical about not throwing out anything edible and that includes kettle chips.
Apparently, many in America haven’t gotten the memo that food waste is a problem, both from a moral standpoint (How can we waste tons of food each year when a fifth of North Carolina’s population is food insecure?) and an environmental one (For instance, landfills with decomposing food emit methane, which scientists believe is an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.)
Here are two interesting images from data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency. It seems that not only do Americans waste a lot of food, we also become more wasteful with each passing decade:
And what do we waste the most? According to the EPA, more than half of fruits and vegetables go to waste, the largest category.
Society of St. Andrew and other gleaning organizations around the country save what we can, but the loss of those most nutritious products is heartbreaking.
In 2015, Society of St. Andrew will continue to work hard to save nutritious food and get it those who need it most. I am blessed to work with a most dedicated group of farmers and volunteers. We receive vital financial support from individuals and congregations; every dollar enables us to put 42 servings of produce on tables in our communities. Join us as you are able!
Now, can someone tell me the solution to my kettle chip crisis?
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a current contributor to this News & Events blog.