Food waste in America is a huge problem. Food waste occurs at every level of the food supply chain. Farms, food manufacturers, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and consumers share responsibility for the disposal of an enormous amount of fresh food. According to the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, 40% of food in the United States goes to waste. Twenty billion pounds of produce currently go to waste on farms every year.  That’s approximately 20 pounds of food per person every month.

One of the biggest reasons for fresh produce waste is the consumer.  It’s not because it lacked deliciousness. Sometimes it was just a little too big, a little too ugly or a little too colorful for supermarket shelves. When you put that alongside the surplus created when our partner farmers had a better-than-expected growing season, you end up with an awful lot of produce that might go to waste


Consumers expect Broccoli to be a uniform shade of vibrant green.  This expectation may have started in the frozen food aisle when producers began to use a green dye to keep frozen broccoli looking good.   This created a consumer expectation that all Broccoli be rich in color when in fact mother nature does not grow Broccoli this way.


Consumers have come to believe that a good, healthy head of cauliflower should be white. As cauliflower matures in the field, the sun naturally alters the color of the head. If it is exposed too long to the sun, the curds turn a dull yellow. This doesn’t affect the taste of the vegetable, but it does affect our desire to buy it.   To prevent the curds from turning yellow, when the cauliflower is the size of a tennis ball, farmers take the biggest leaves and tie them over the head with a rubber band.  The reason; to keep the cauliflower white.

There are many other sources of possible waste.  Growers intentionally and understandably overproduce knowing that some produce will not be supermarket grade. Some growers choose to abandon this produce in the field to save the expense and labor involved in harvesting less than perfect produce. Supermarkets also purchase more produce than they will sell for the purpose of making sure produce displays are always full of ‘perfectly’ appearing produce.

Share This