Animal Welfare

Number of the Day: 133 billion pounds of food in 2010 went uneaten

Today’s post over at Archaeology and Material Culture, Unsavory Materiality: The Aesthetics of Institutional Food, shares some shocking information:

Food waste […] is much easier to quantify and serves as a somewhat shocking rallying point for many activists: a 2014 study indicated that in 2010 a stunning 31% of the edible US food supply at retail and consumer levels—133 billion pounds of food–was discarded.  Much of that prodigious waste can be blamed on a terribly inefficient production system, but we appear to have somewhat less systematic insights from consumers dissecting why we discard so much theoretically consumable food.

How many animals suffered and then were killed to make those wasted food products?

In the United States, we kill 10 billion land animals a year to make food products. In the article “A Nation of Meat Eaters” over a NPR, there’s a breakdown of meat consumption per person, in pounds:

Source: Earth Policy Institute Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

Source: Earth Policy Institute
Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

And this infographic sums up what the average American consumers in a year.

So when I see staggering numbers like this, detailing how much food we waste in America (and that statistic only covers retail and consumer levels), I think of all the nameless victims — birds, pigs, cows, and so on — who were bred to be killed for food products. Moreover, our food animals are using resources that could instead be used to alleviate world hunger. As people around the world starve, our food animals eat.

It’s so hard getting this message out there. In our food system, animals are commodified — and treated like trash. living like this...

we make them live like this…

...becoming this.

…so they can become that.

When will our perception of animals change? As we recognize the unsustainability of our food system, hopefully the change will come soon. I also think that to effectuate change, we need to share positive stories of those who were rescued instead of killed for food. Here’s a story of a dairy cow whose milk production was no longer cost effective and was on her way to be slaughtered for beef. She is not a commodity. She is not trash.


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