Have you ever bought an orphan banana? They’re everywhere, yet go unnoticed and left to ripen past market standards in the grocery story bin. They’re the lone fruits unattached to a picturesque bunch.
MSNBC recently aired Just Eat It, a documentary about first world societies’ food waste by Canadian director, Grant Baldwin and producer Jenny Rustemeyer.
It’s not a filmmaker’s job to lay down plans for a revolution. The documentary just needs to present the problem and inspire viewers to take action and start it on their own. In its findings and manifesto, one can’t not draw connections between Just Eat It and Food Inc., the 2008 documentary about factory farms, government failure, and environmental destruction.
I’ve seen Food, Inc. between five and eight times: on my own time, in school, for assignments and research, and through free screenings. One time last year, I brought my friend’s roommate along. He was the only person I came across that week that responded to my screening promotions positively: “Oh yea, I kinda wanted to see that.” He showed up five minutes into the opening scene. After leaving, we agreed that “it’s pretty crazy,” all this food industry shit, and parted ways. The next time I saw him, he was topping his penne with chicken.
I didn’t expect the world to go vegetarian after watching Food, Inc. or after reading any number of books about factory farming. But what surprises me most with the documentary isn’t any of the graphic footage, the government’s lesser-known involvements, or the spiraling statistics that emerge from the deep depths of the TV screen. I’m more impressed by how many people it doesn’t seem to affect.
Once we know, we know. But it’s easier to block that knowledge from our minds and continue eating and wasting as we were two hours before, and as we have been doing for our entire lives. We’re creatures of habit. Like the Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island cartoon that freaked me out as a child, we can tell ourselves, it’s just a movie, and sleep soundlessly throughout the night. We can tell ourselves that our bacon isn’t industrial bacon, our chicken is “free-range,” and no one’s going to eat this half-wilted spinach, anyway, so since we don’t have a garden to put the proposed compost to use, just toss it in the bin.
At the end of the day, 99% of all meat produced in the U.S. is factory-farmed meat, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, between carcass to retail weight, grocery store spoilage, and consumer plate waste, almost “half of the weight of meat is lost from the carcass to the consumption.” Now, from Just Eat It, we know that 40% of all food produced for the U.S. and Canadian markets overflows the landfills.
While organizations like Feeding America are increasing their received donations and improving their outreach to combat hunger and food waste, most growers and food businesses lack the support and compensation needed to ensure timely donations to these food banks and nonprofits.
These facts are hardly new, but the colorful ways they’re presented to us, through documentaries, make them un-ignorable. It takes a little more reminding ourselves before the information starts to digest, but all bad habits are breakable.