Nation’s waste of food not local problem



    Americans waste 96 billion pounds of food annually at the retail level, said Joel Berg, director of national service for the Department of Agriculture,

    This is 27 percent of the 355 billion pounds of food produced annually. Berg attributes the waste to restaurants, cafeterias, major institutional cafeterias and average consumers.

    Managers of local restaurants and groceries, however, said food waste is not a major problem for them.

    “We don’t have that much food that spoils. We get our orders every other day,” said Katie McCaman, assistant manager of Boston Market in Orem.

    Boston Market receives some produce in prepackaged, airtight bags that prevent spoiling, McCaman said.

    Mike Feuer, general manager of Carvers in Orem, agrees with McCaman. “Spoilage isn’t an issue for us,” he said.

    Spoilage isn’t an issue for Storehouse Market Savings System in Provo either. “We have schedules that allow us to work long days so we don’t have to cut excess meat unless necessary. We check the counter and cut just what we need,” said Cory Nuttall, meat department manager.

    They also keep a tally of the previous years’ sales for comparison. “Generally, we come out about right,” Nuttall said.

    Jeff Turner, manager of Reams in Provo, said they also watch last years’ figures and current business trends to estimate how much food to order.

    He estimates that 10 percent of the produce and 5 percent of the meat spoil per week. “We have more control over the meats because we refrigerate or freeze them,” Turner said. “We try to do everything we can. The less spoilage, the better.”

    Although Provo and Orem businesses are trying to combat against wasting food, the USDA is conducting a summit Sept. 17 and 18 to fight the problem nationally. The goal of the summit is to increase food recovery by 33 percent, Berg said.

    Five hundred million pounds of food a year would be recovered if this goal were met. This food could feed more than 300,000 people a day.

    The USDA will help grassroots groups, such as Second Harvest Food Chain, do a better job. Specific commitments will be made on how more food can be recovered.

    Berg said groups are already involved in food recovery.

    “The LDS church is very involved nationally in food recovery,” he said. “Its canneries are used to preserve food.”

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