From Frugivore — In 2009, filmmaker Jeremy Seifert released Dive!, a documentary that explores America’s ongoing problem with wasting food. Following the lives of Seifert and his dumpster diving friends, we’re taken to the back alleys of Los Angeles supermarkets in which tons of edible food are left for garbage disposal. Cited in the documentary, 96 billion pounds of food are thrown away in America, which means that we’re feeding our landfills as much as we consume. But more importantly, as families remain hungry and struggling in America, why isn’t this food given to people who need it? Or why aren’t we offering more support to countries, such as Somalia, which faces another famine?
These questions are complicated, as the reality of irresponsible capitalism reigns over America’s food system. Waste is normalized. People remain hungry. Socioeconomic circumstances limit access to fresh food. But really, there’s no reason for edible fruit, bread, vegetables, and meat to sit in a dumpster when it could’ve been given to Americans and international populations attempting to make ends meet.
Frankly, the solution to food waste will not stem from a free market capitalist system. It calls for government encouragement, if not outright intervention, since eliminating waste and feeding the hungry is rarely profitable and thus, attractive. Perhaps, the federal government should offer additional corporate tax benefits for supermarket chains that collaborate with local shelters to regularly distribute would-be-wasted food. Or maybe there should be stronger federal regulations on the amount of food a supermarket can throw to the dumpster, which would cut back on landfill operations and strengthen the environment.