In the age of internet and food delivery, there are no shortage of ways to get food delivered to your home. Some of these services, like meal kits, are (in my ever so humble opinion) wasteful and only good for reinforcing general attitudes of excess, busyness, and laziness, but others are based on the principle of getting fresh food into the hands of consumers. Over the summer, I got the occasional CSA box from Terra Organics. I loved that the service was local, but it didn’t deliver directly to my home and the box was only offered for a short season. Then, I learned about Imperfect Produce. Imperfect Produce is a food delivery business that sources produce that doesn’t meet grocery standards and sells it to consumers at a discount. American consumers have been trained to have ridiculous standards when it comes to produce, meaning farmers have little incentive to harvest produce that is the wrong size or shape according to grocery stores. As a result, resources are poured into growing food that is destined to rot in the field.
Since starting my zero-waste lifestyle, I have adopted a mostly vegetarian lifestyle (I still eat fish occasionally) because of the environmental impact of industrial livestock production. Cutting meat from my diet has been surprisingly easy, but reducing (or eliminating) meat consumption is not the only way to improve your environmental impact through the foods you eat.
As I’ve considered a more sustainable lifestyle, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the fact that I would probably come to the conclusion that I need to become a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian before, once in high school when I went full vegan for an article for the school paper and for a few months in college. I’ve been aware of the many problems with factory farming for ages, but I grew up in a household where we ate meat every dinner. I unashamedly love meat, but I also realize that eating meat contradicts the Just Cool It and rereading Eating Animals have convinced me that meat (as we know it) has got to go.
I think about food a lot. It’s my job. I am fortunate enough to work for an amazing nonprofit that is at the center of Pierce County’s emergency food system. Each month we give away more than a million pounds of food and each month, over 100,000 visits are made to emergency food sites throughout the country. We may not see the images of hunger and malnutrition in the U.S. like we see in developing countries, but we have a real food problem. Food is a basic human need and, I would argue, a basic human right. But for too many people in the United States, healthy food can be a luxury. As I see the cost of living in Tacoma on the rise, I can only imagine how many more people will find themselves unable to afford basics such as housing, transportation, and food. And yet we have an abundance of food and money in this country. The problem isn’t a lack of resources, it is about the resources being distributed unequally throughout the country. And yet, with so many wondering where their next meal will come from, most of us throw away food every single day.