Food Waste: IMPACTS OF FOOD WASTE
Why Else Should We Care?
We’ll take the example of a fresh tomato you may find on a sandwich at a restaurant in Logan, Utah. That tomato was likely grown in California, a commuter distance of over 700 miles...
During the Growing and Harvesting stage...
Your tomato plant must be watered. Water storage, transfer, and irrigation requires energy and labor.
Your tomato plant is likely grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These materials could be manufactured anywhere in the world. Factor in fossil fuels and energy used to create and ship the fertilizer and pesticides to California.
Don't forget about the runoff of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that occurs!
Laborers must work to harvest your tomato. The tomatoes are washed (more labor) using water.
During the Transportation stage...
Refrigeration requires electricity and fossil fuels.
Somebody must package your tomato (consider cardboard, plastic and labor) and drive it to where it needs to be.
Emissions from the actual transportation vehicle are let into the atmosphere.
Your tomato is likely unloaded into a warehouse, then transported again in a fossil fuel-emitting vehicle to the restaurant you’re dining at.
During the Processing stage...
The workers at the restaurant wash your tomato with water before slicing it up. They then wash the cutting board and knife with soap and water before putting it in a sanitizing dishwasher. The food safety gloves they used to cut it are thrown away.
The building you are eating in is powered by the Rocky Mountain Power Plant. The power is used to keep lights on, keep food cold or hot, keep the temperature comfortable, etc.
During the Disposal stage...
Your food service workers may recycle the cardboard and plastic that your tomato came in, or they may throw it away. Your restaurant doesn’t have its own composter, so the top and bottom of the tomato are thrown away.
If you aren't able to finish your sandwich, you throw some of your tomato away. Eventually, a garbage truck (emitting fossil fuels) picks it up and takes it to the landfill. There, it's compacted using machinery that requires energy from fossil fuels.
After your tomato is compacted, it lives in the landfill as it decomposes, emitting methane into the air.