Hunger isn’t pretty

A world that throws away 40-50% of the food it produces must be super healthy and wealthy, right? No, not at all. Our world is filled with millions of people who are hungry and malnourished. In the USA, close to 50 million people are unsure about their next meal. They have to choose between paying their bills and buying food.

A new series looks at this problem in the UK. “Britain Isn’t Eating” was created by the Guardian newspaper. Through short videos, viewers take an honest look at what it’s like to have nothing to eat. Or have food, but no electricity to cook it with.

Hunger isn’t pretty, and some need outside assistance for proper nutrition. When will governments and supermarkets realize that $165 billion worth of food should be on the table, not in the landfill?

Here’s to being the change we want to see!

USDA Steps Up to Tackle Food Waste United States has been trailing behind Europe when it comes to taking action against food waste, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has finally launched a national campaign to bring some much-needed attention to the issue. Food waste awareness in the U.S. seems to have been growing over the past couple of years, with organizations like Food Recovery Network rapidly expanding and individual states taking action; so the Food Waste Challenge could be the catalyst for more serious policy efforts on the issue.

The challenge is directed at every tier of the food chain, from growers and processors to supermarkets and schools, “to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste” (USDA). The aim is to get 400 organizations by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020 to set their own food waste reduction goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them. For this, the EPA offers food waste assessment tools, so that participants can determine their current waste levels and costs and set targets accordingly. Other resources include the Waste Reduction Model, providing a general plan of action. The ease of access to these kinds of resources is crucial to make the challenge less daunting, encouraging participation by demonstrating that the issue is not ‘too big to handle.’

Naturally, the success of this project will be measured by the participant organizations’ ability to cut down their waste. Just as important as the actual reductions, though, is the establishment of food waste as a leading national issue. Even though the USDA won’t be able to track how many people hear about the project, every person that learns about food waste through the campaign is a potential waste-fighter. National publicity of the food waste problem will inevitably increase the number of people working against it, even if they don’t sign up for the challenge via an organization. Heightened public awareness will mean more Americans lobbying government agencies to institute anti-waste policy.

This step in the right direction could make a big difference. Well done, America.



Food Waste Measurement Tools

Join the U.S. Food Waste Challenge

USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge

National Donut Day in USA

donutIn lieu of the National Donut Day here in the USA we wanted to shed some light on the dark side of this round, fried, glazed and sometimes stuffed goodness known as the donut.

In the past we mentioned that it is important to stay clear of refined sugars and flour when picking food to consume. The reason is that refined foods have no nutritional value for your body. In fact, they do the opposite.

As nutritionist Julie Daniluk mentions, the author of Meals that Heal Inflamation, these foods rob your body of vitamins it already has. After consuming a donut made of refined sugar and flour, the vitamin B in your body kicks in to process this food and turn into a form that your body can consume and use as energy. If we continue to consume refined foods we use up our vitamins, such as vitamin B, without replenishing it and begin to experience nutrient deficiency.

As you can see, rather than being used for other vital processes, vitamins in your body get burned on processing food with no nutritional value. Instead of revitalizing your body these processed and refined foods rob you of the healthy vitamins you already have.

The word vitamin literally describes things that are vital for our life. Every cell in your body responds to and gathers energy from the food that is put into it. It is amazing to know that your body is made of all the things you eat. Our flesh is made of protein, our brain is made of fat, the carbohydrates we consume become energy cells, and vitamins and minerals are the enzymes we need to make all of our bodily processes click and function.

If we keep this in mind, we will definitely be more conscious of what foods we put into our body. If we consume unhealthy and nutrient lacking food our body will start breaking down because it will run out of the building blocks that help it function properly.

So when celebrating the National Donut Day, remember, eating in moderation and eating healthy food can help you live a longer, healthier and happier life. We are what we eat, so pay attention to what you consume.

Food Deserts

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 2.53.23 PMHave you ever heard of such a term? I haven´t and it exists in every country. A Food Desert is defined as urban neighborhoods or rural municipalities with little or no access to groceries stores that sell affordable fresh food needed for a healthy died. Very often such areas have an offer of various fast food restaurants, convenience stores or gas station not offering vital fresh produce. It is a phenomenon that is one of the most important causes of the bad functioning food system.

According to the USDA´s Economic Research Service ¨23.5 million people live in food deserts and more than half of those people (13.5 million) are low-income. A one-mile marker may not be appropriate to use in rural areas where the population is more sparsely distributed and where vehicle ownership is high. To further refine the number of people who may be affected by food deserts, a 10-mile marker is used to consider food access in rural areas. 2.3 million people live in low-income rural areas that are more than 10 miles from a supermarket.¨ In order for an area to be qualified as a Food Desert the community has to have at least a 20% rate of poverty.

As I mentioned it in one of my previous posts, it is all related to the US Government’s agriculture and food policies. In the 50´ there were still many small local farmers that would not only be subsidized by the government to produce food on a national level, but farmers that would also provide fresh food to their local community. Unfortunately with time and the sky-rocketing market these small farmers have disappeared. Instead we have now huge corporation running enormous farms, for which sometimes one needs a plane to ´walk´ around. These businesses provide supply to big supermarket chains, which of course are too big to bother with some little towns in the middle of nowhere. You can take a look at such map of food deserts.

In Europe there are still some little towns in the middle of nowhere, where local farmers provide local markets with fresh produce, but they are also in danger of extinction. The EU Parliament too often favors big corporations when changing some policies. A lot of people say that today we are living in a world of choice, where one can buy whatever he or she wants. Because of the Agriculture and Food policies soon people living in food deserts will have only a couple of food producers to choose from: Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft and Kellogg’s.

In that moment it will be already too late or it will be really, really hard to change something in the food system and to restore the ¨healthy¨ life people were living. There is more and more studies that state that today’s generations may live shorter than their parents. In fact, the forecast for diabetes cases are extremely shocking. And the most catastrophic results of the American food system are obesity, diabetes and malnutrition. In a country with so much richness I find this issue a priority to solve!





posted by Piotr Wielezynski

A Place at the Table

o-a-place-at-the-table-570_custom-91ecc63205db5013bf502f1bc7a653eb09983583-s6-c10Recently I saw the new documentary on the food situation in America called ¨A Place at the Table¨. Its main message was to show how big the problem of food insecurity is in the USA. It is not a new topic, however any person willing to get an answer to the question, why so many of the richest country citizens every day have to think where the next meal will come from, will want to see it.

I think the moment that hit me most was when Jeff Bridges (Actor and Hunger Activisit) was talking about a movie he produced in 1996 ¨Hidden in America¨. It is a story of a family struggling everyday to get food. As Suzuki’s speech from 1990 still stayed fresh, so did the story told in this movie. And maybe, the situation is even worse.

In 1996 there was about 35 million Americans living below the poverty line. Now, 1 in 7 Americans may be feeling hungry every single day, which accounts for 50 million Americans. It is more than the population of my country, Poland (38 million)!!! Many people think that it is because there is not enough food (an opinion favored by the big agro businesses). On the other hand America is net exporter of food according to FAOSTATS (more than 50% of products made in America are exported) and is the country with one of the highest rates of food waste in the world (approx. 50%). Why is in then that a country with so much income per person a year is on the last place on the ranking: the most food secure country in the OECD?

There is no one right answer. During Nixon´s presidency the US government has initialized many projects and increased the Food Stamps budget, in order to end the problem of hunger forever. And it was working very well. Unfortunately, Regan’s office thought that the government shouldn’t deal with such problems and more space should be left to charities. So they did and now the results are shocking. The statistics show that 1 in 2 children in America will have some experience with hunger and food insecurity.

The problem of food insecurity is obvious. There is also another side of the coin, which is probably even worse for both, the society and the government. Because of the poorly managed food system the poorest Americans cannot afford healthy food. A bag of chips can cost 0.30$, while a pound of apples costs 2.30$. These examples are of course almost unlimited. This is a result of the US Department of Agriculture subsidies policy. 84% of subsidies go for such as produce: corn, cotton, wheat, soy and rice but only 1% is devoted to fruits and vegetables. Because of such policy in the past 20 years prices of processed food went amazingly down and relatively prices of fruits and vegetables went up. That means that an average American is more likely to choose chips over more expensive apples.

You know exactly where this is going. Health issues related to malnutrition, hunger or food insecurity cost the government over $ 165 billion per year, which still is only a fraction of what is spend on military. As a final comment I will pass on a quote by Jeff Bridges: ¨The government wouldn´t like to have their defense issues solved by charity, because they know it doesn´t work that way.¨


1. A Place at the Table –




Posted by Piotr Wielezynski

Herbicides and Illness

roundupIn our last post we revealed to you how big corporations are monopolizing our food system. And we also told you that two of its biggest players, Monsanto and DuPont have signed an agreement for close collaboration which includes DuPont getting a license to sell seeds from Monsanto that are resistant to their own herbicide called Roundup.

This means that Monsanto both produces the herbicide that kills weeds and also sells seeds that are resistant to its chemicals. Well, new research shows some worrisome findings. The key ingredient of the very popular herbicide called ‘glyphosate’ has been found in food.

The author of the report, a research scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stephanie Seneff, said that this residue of ‘glyphosate’ enhances the negative effect of food-borne chemical residues and other toxins in the environment that induce disease. It means that the negative effects are not easily seen. It takes years for them to build up and show their presence.

Some of the illnesses Roundup may be responsible for inducing are Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers. Currently the EPA is conducting a standard registration review for the chemical ‘glyphosate’, but it won’t announce the findings until 2015, which means it will take two more years before the EPA orders for a decrease of the chemicals’ use.

This might mean two more years of consuming soybeans, corn, canola and sugar beets without knowing if these products are slowly killing us. Many say that with the growing population we need to rely on the new technology to grow more food. A great way Oxfam tried to address this question is through the empowerment of small farmers in their 2009 campaign called ‘GROW’. The campaign aimed to ensure that everyone has enough food to eat by strengthening the small-scale production and urging governments to be more proactive.

But is this enough? One thing is for sure: our governments are not doing enough to protect us from big corporations taking over our food system. If we want it to be fixed then we have to ask more questions and demand more changes. Waiting for change won’t do the planet or us any good.

Food Monopoly

3553723626_19e66c550bDo you know who Lee Kyung-Hae is? It’s ok if you don’t. After all he was just a South Korean farmer who died at a protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancun, Mexico in 2003.

But what you should try to remember are the words he once said: “My warning goes to all citizens that human beings are in an endangered situation in which uncontrolled multinational corporations and a small number of big WTO official members are leading undesirable globalization of inhumane, environmentally degrading, farmer-killing and undemocratic policies. It should be stopped immediately, otherwise the false logic of neo-liberalism will perish the diversities of global agriculture with disastrous consequences to all human beings. “

The words do sound a bit exaggerated and uncesessarily alarming, but are they true? Looking back at how our food system developed in the past 10 years the words ring shockingly true.

In 2002 Monsanto and DuPont agreed to become close collaborators. They willingly exchanged their pattented seed technologies and agreed to drop any outstanding lawsuits. This year it seems the last of the lawsuits was finally dropped. In March Bloomberg reported that Monsanto and DuPont have “agreed to drop their antitrust and soybean patent lawsuits and enter into licensing agreements for making genetically modified crops.”

This means that DuPont will license the newest versions of Monsanto soybean crops that can tolerate Roundup and other weed killers. To do this, the company will pay royalties to Monsanto for up to $1.75 billion in the next 10 years.

What does this blossoming relationship between two food giants mean for you? It depends on who you are. For South Korean farmers and others like him all over the world it means loss of profits. Consolidations between suppliers and processors have left farmers with fewer options in regards to seed buying and produce selling. And with the rise of patented seeds farmers find themselves caught in the spider web of ownership rights, lawsuits and debts. Farmers who choose to plant seeds that vary from the mainstream sort find guards in the form of supermarket ‘marketing standards’ barring their entrance to the global market.

Consumers who shop at conventional supermarkets will find this hard to believe. A 15-minute walk through the grocery store and you will see aisles filled with different brands of cereal boxes, endless array of bottled drinks and beautiful apples suggesting that you should take them home.

But the high from ‘cheap produce’ quickly comes crashing down as you realize that the monopoly of the retail sector can only lead to one thing: lack of choice, higher prices and cheap labor. For example: This same attraction to ‘cheap’ produce has made Wal-Mart one of the biggest companies in the world. They sell grocery produce at 14% below the competing supermarket prices thanks to the hiring of workers at below the poverty line.

What we as consumers fail to realize is that the cheapness of our food comes at the price of our small farmers, lands and health. Our food is now cheap and filled with chemicals that cause obesity, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Our lands and waters are polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. Our small farmers are disappearing off the map, and traditional farming practices are replaced with big scale factories. So do we really have more choice?

As the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and power is gripped more tightly in the hands of the wealthy, it becomes difficult to ignore the dreadful state of our food system. And the only question that remains is: in the next 5 years what would you consider to be the turning point for our food? And was it for better or worse?

No matter what, one thing is for sure. With less food diversity it seems our buffer zone against large-scale disasters is growing ever so tiny.

Restaurant that gives free food?

gleaners kitchenMaximus Thaler, a Tufts University student, wants to feed people, create a space for art, and bring communities together by opening a new underground restaurant and grocery store – The Gleaners’ Kitchen.

This  place will always have hot coffee, tea and lentil soup. At 6pm they will serve food to those who are hungry at no cost, because as Thaler puts it “food is a fundamental right, and should be shared freely with all”.

But this is not just an idea, it will soon be a reality thanks to the amazing people who supported this project on Kickstarter, a page that allows people to post their projects and receive donations from those who are interested in supporting it.

Such a restaurant and grocery store is a creative way to solving our global food waste and hunger problem. Just consider this fact for a second, an average supermarket throws away $2,300 worth of perfectly edible food every single night. In a country such as the United States where 1 in 6 people face hunger, it seems completely wrong!

To learn more about this project, check out their video. We hope you get inspired!

Obama signs the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

72723_10151611306344388_1574261512_nThree days ago Obama signed H.R. 933 into law, which contained the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’. What does that mean? This new act “undermines the independence of judicial review and gives biotech seed companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical a blank check on the approval of new genetically engineered crops.” (EcoWatch) This new act endangers the work of small farmers, and the health of American’s who still can’t enjoy food labels on GMO food.

Despite 250,000 Americans urging President Obama to veto the bill and send it back to Congress, so that this section can be removed, their messages were all ignored. The part that is devastating is that major news media outlets are not covering this story! In fact, here at Say No To Food Waste we found out about it 3 days after the bill was signed, and the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian have yet to publish anything about it.

We want to THANK all the grassroots organisations that are covering topics of food and food security, and encourage all our readers to ask more questions and pay more attention to where their food is coming from. We also send a special shout-out to Food Democracy Now! for staying on top of this story. We’ll keep you posted on any new developments.

The growing portions story.

Growing portions is a big problem of our civilization, as far as the food system is concerned. Serving portions are far bigger today than they were in the past, which often leads to an intake of far more calories than we actually need. It is particularly a problem in the USA. People that have visited McDonald’s in both Europe and USA know that a large Coke in Paris would be a small one in New York (not considering the possibility of refills that doesn’t exist in all countries).

Scientist agree that the increase in portion sizes accounts to an additional 50-150 calories per meal. It is not a big deal if we consume such portions once in a while. However, a daily injection of additional 100 calories can lead to an addition of extra 10 lbs of weight a year. Nowadays, people eating in fast food restaurants can get the daily amount of calories in one meal. Think about it, small french fries have 210 calories, while the large size has 610 calories. A small soft drink contains 150 calories, while the 42-ounce cup has 410 calories. If you add to that a giant hamburger you have to count around 1,000 calories, which would add up to a total of 2,020 calories!!

To give you a broader notion of how the caloric consistency of our food has changed from the 1950‘s to today, I will give you a couple of examples:

French fries – 2.4 ounces à up to 7.1 ounces
Fountain soda – 7 ounces à 12 to 64 ounces
Hamburger patty – 1.6 ounces à up to 8 ounces
Hamburger sandwich – 3.9 ounces à 4.4 to 12.6 ounces
Muffin – 3 ounces à 6.5 ounces
Pasta serving – 1.5 cups à 3 cups
Chocolate bar – 1 ounce à 2.6 to 8 ounces

Some people say that maybe you don’t need to eat the entire portion that was served to you. Even though many people don’t care about wasting food, the majority of the population knows from an early age that “no food should be left on the plate”, since there are children starving in Africa.

A study carried out by Massive Health found that if we are served a portion of 500 g (a little bit more than a pound), on average we will eat only 335 g. On the other hand, if we get a portion of 1,000 g we will eat 434 g. That means that with bigger portions we eat 30% more, and these bigger portions don’t necessarily make us feel any fuller.

In order to win this battle with growing portions all over the world, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips:

  1. When you eat out try to split an entrée with a friend or put the half of the meal in a to-go container.
  2. When you eat at home try to serve meals on your plate rather than serving it on serving dishes placed in the center of the table.
  3. You can also keep healthier foods in places that are easier to access and tempting foods, such as cookies, out of sight, in cupboards.
  4. When you have the possibility to choose a smaller portion, go for it. If you eat it slowly, believe me you won’t feel hungry at all!





Posted by Piotr Wielezynski