Talking nature: The importance of not wasting food

I was very distressed this morning when I burned the rhubarb sauce I was cooking.

It completely ran out of water while I was reading the paper and listening to news on television.

I thought I should have smelled it, but I was absorbed and slightly annoyed about what I was reading and hearing.

Gardening and cooking are especially important activities to me.

I feel a visceral need to produce some of my own food.

I lived on a farm for almost 40 years and producing food and cooking are ingrained in me.

I like to cook and cook from scratch.

Thus burning the rhubarb sauce filled me with great remorse.

My thought immediately transferred to the waste of this free rhubarb which I had destroyed.

I had listened this week to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, discuss food waste.

He stated that 30 percent of the food we produce is wasted.

I thought about this.  I try very hard not to throw food away, simply because I was born in the middle of the Depression and waste is an anathema to me as a residual response to that era.

I do end up throwing some food away and some people throw a lot of food away.

The Secretary of Agriculture gave three reasons why food waste is so important an issue.

First of all, it is a food security issue.

We have a lot of people who are sometimes hungry and skip meals because of the lack of financial resources.

Food that is wasted cannot be given to food shelves.

Secondly food waste is a natural resource issue.

It means that labor, fertilizer and water have been wasted.

Agriculture is heavily dependent on petroleum for production.    ‘

Agriculture and food production are the largest users of water in our country.

There is concern that our abundant water resources maybe depleted in the future.

The third reason he gave is that of climate change.  Food makes up the largest component of landfill waste and landfills produce the third largest source of methane gas.

Methane gas is a chief source of greenhouse gases.

An often asked question is how the average person can reduce the use of energy and fossil fuels.

Reducing food waste is a partial answer to this question.

It is also an important act to preserve our water resources.

Suggestions for reducing food waste begin with purchasing food more carefully, buying only what is needed and will be used.

There are ways in which food waste may be recycled especially by business establishments providing food to those who need it.

There is also scientific research being conducted to utilize food waste for other uses.

It is not only the government that is concerned with food production.

The head of Cargill, the Minnesota-based privately owned corporation, is also concerned.
In a recent speech Greg Page, Cargill chief executive officer, stated that the world population is expected to increase from seven billion people to nine billion people by mid-century.

This will require an increase of food production by seventy percent.

His assertion is that Africa must become a more proficient producer of food.

We are fortunate to have an abundant source of food at a cost that is very reasonable for the majority of the citizens.

It must not be wasted, however.

Editor’s note: Beverly Toppin is a member of the Coon Rapids Senior Center’s Creative Writers Group, which contribute the Talking Nature columns. 

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