Dive! [A Film About Food Waste In America]
My post this week on saving food from waste proved to be quite timely, as last night I was honored with an invitation to a screening of the documentary Dive!, presented by the Capital Area Food Bank at the Blanton Museum of Art as a part of Hunger Action Month.
Although I would have been happy to attend simply for the rush of excitement that comes from picking up a ticket from the VIP line…
…and some tasty treats at the reception before the film screening…
….I found the movie incredibly powerful in its message, and left all fired up to tell y’all about it. So much so that I abandoned my half-written post to share this film with you.**OK, well, thoughts ABOUT the film…not the actual film. For that you’ll have to do some investigating into ITunes or wait around for Netflix to pick it up.
The film claims its focus to be “dumpster-diving” in America, chronicling the tale of a family (and some friends) who head into unlocked dumpsters behind grocery stores and retrieve pound upon pound of perfectly good food that has been thrown away due to slight imperfection or an approaching “sell-by” date.
Although it starts off as a rather humorous, lighthearted take on saving food from demise and profiting from the waste of others—the writer/director’s two-year-old-son is particularly adorable, and a scene where a dumpster-diver gets the police to sit back and let him trespass is great fun to see—it quickly becomes about something more: the horrific amount of food waste generated in this country while there is extreme hunger not only here, but in other, even more impoverished countries as well.
One shocking statistic? 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year
in the United States, which equals out 300 pounds of food waste for every person
living here. One in six Americans are “food insecure,”
and, here in Central Texas, that ratio is an even scarier one in five. [As for kids…that’s the worst statistic: one in four
is suffering from hunger.]
The film does tend to focus on the waste generated by grocery stores*–Trader Joe’s
is the most referenced target–that throw away bags upon bags of nearly expired foodstuffs and slightly damaged perishables (i.e. entire clamshell boxes of strawberries for one that is mushed or moldy)
.*As a market employee myself, I have seen firsthand the struggle that comes from having to meet customer demand for product perfection and the threat of lawsuit that prevents selling items anywhere near their sell-by date. Thankfully, I know my store, and the corporation that owns it, participates in composting and the Central TX Food Rescue program, so it’s at least trying to make a difference.
But just because the film focuses a lot of energy on waste at the store or corporate level, doesn’t mean there aren’t things WE can do to help reduce waste
(and perhaps take a stand against hunger). At the panel following the film—which included writer/director, Jeremy Seifert, and the President and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, Hank Perret–many ideas were generated as to what we, as individuals, can start doing today to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.
First and foremost, simply pay attention
. Look at how much food you waste and think about how you could reduce it. Compost if you can. When preparing meals, think “What should we eat?” rather than “What sounds good?”
This involves what Jeremy called “eating down the fridge,” taking whatever you’ve got and making something from that rather than seeing it thrown away.
This might mean you’re a bit like me and end up eating a bowl of almost-forgotten peas covered in the remnants of a jar of salsa and a bunch of tortilla chiplets…but at least that went into your belly and not in the trashcan.
When shopping, don’t necessarily take the gallon of milk or the tub of yogurt from the back of the shelf. What doesn’t get purchased in time will most likely end up being thrown away. You can be like me and ignore expiration dates…and definitely shop the clearance sales
. Remember: “sell by” is a suggestion, and most foods last a good week after their expiration date.
Lastly, don’t neglect foods that are “edible but not presentable.”
A sweet potato that looks a little mangy on the outside…
…will roast up quite beautifully if you give it a chance.
Most importantly, remember what Jeremy himself says in the movie:
“Food is life. It should never be wasted.”