Efficiency, waste, and backyard chickens

I finally read the NRDC’s report on food waste in America, the one that concludes we waste 40 percent of our food, and I noted that most of the report is framed in terms of “efficiency” — we waste food because our food system isn’t efficient enough. Which leads to language like this: “A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey ranks reducing food waste as one of the top three opportunities to improve resource productivity.” Or this gem: “Increasing the efficiency of the U.S. food system is a triple bottom-line solution that requires a collective approach by decision-makers at every level in the supply chain.” Eh, maybe. I mean, sure. Whatever that means. I’m not sure who they’re speaking to, here.

There may well be big solutions worth pursuing. But big solutions tend to create waste; in fact the pursuit of efficiency itself can create new kinds of waste even while limiting other kinds. Let me give just one example of why: Chickens. Continue reading “Efficiency, waste, and backyard chickens”

Putting a face on food waste

Last week I ran across, again, the figure that Americans waste 40 percent of our food, which was widely reported last summer. I got to wondering how much of that was meat, because I am (and try to remain) keenly aware that meat is not merely pounds and calories and grams of protein; it’s the body of a once-living creature. Not that wasting bread or vegetables is a great thing, but I don’t see it as the same kind of moral issue as wasting meat. So I did a bit of research, and here’s what I found. Continue reading “Putting a face on food waste”