As unemployment rises and panicked consumers stock up on groceries, food pantries are suffering and more food is at risk of going to waste than ever. As our gleaners know, when the US is operating at full capacity during a non-emergency time, an exorbitant amount of food is wasted every day. Roughly 40% of the food produced in an average year ends up rotting in fields or slowly expiring in grain silos. During the current pandemic, a spike in national food waste is predicted.
As single households are already a leading culprit , hoarding and panicked over-buying will likely lead to many families not being able to consume everything they purchase before it goes bad. According to Recology, the Bay Area’s waste management program, curbside food waste in San Francisco is already on the rise as more families cook at home and order takeout.
Large and small scale farm waste, a more familiar sector to our gleaning community, is also expected to rise. As Southern immigration slams to a halt, the US Food and Environment Reporting Network predicts up to 200,000 expected migrant workers will be unable to cross borders and work this season, spurring fear among producers that even higher amounts of crops won’t be harvested this year. Farmer’s market closures have made it near impossible for smaller farmers with highly perishable crops like leafy greens to find new markets to sell their yield before it wilts and rots.
What can we do on a smaller scale to help our SLO community?
Though the outlook may seem bleak, there is plenty we can do in SLO to minimize our impact in this trying time!
– Make sure you aren’t buying more perishable items than what you and your family can eat in a reasonable amount of time.
– Most food can be frozen! We threw two big bunches of kale in the freezer two weeks ago and make a smoothie with it every morning.
– Rely on your senses, not the date labels. Often these are dates manufacturers place on products to get consumers to buy more, quicker. If it looks good, smells good, and tastes good, those are pretty good indicators that it is good.
– CSA’s are still happening! If you don’t already subscribe to a CSA program, now might be a great time to reach out to your local farms. Additionally, some restaurants like Sally Loo’s are offering bagged produce to save you that unnecessary trip to the store. Many farmer’s markets in SLO County are still open! If you choose to go and support your local farmers, make sure you follow social distancing guidelines and WASH YOUR HANDS!
– Many farmer’s markets in SLO County are still open! If you choose to go and support your local farmers, make sure you follow social distancing guidelines and WASH YOUR HANDS!
In these trying times, our amazing food community can still do our part to ensure that with each passing day, a little less food gets wasted.
Stay healthy and happy, gleaners!