KUNC

         

Tossed Out

About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the U.S. in 2012, compared to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper. (Pat Aylward/NET News)
About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the U.S. in 2012, compared to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper. (Pat Aylward/NET News)

We waste more than 30 percent of the food we could be buying and eating here in the U.S., according to numbers from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, enough food to feed millions of hungry people.

From farm to processing plant to food company to grocery store to table, food is wasted all along the food chain, as we reported on in our series “Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.” But the real problem, at least here in the U.S., is mostly with us.

“In developed nations, hyperefficient farming practices, plenty of refrigeration, and top-notch transportation, storage, and communications ensure that most of the food we grow makes it to the retail level,” author Elizabeth Royte wrote recently at nationalgeographic.com

(Will Curran/Flickr)
(Will Curran/Flickr)

Airline flights and legal fees in California; rental cars and hotel rooms in Indiana; $19 at Yogurtland in Los Angeles and expert witness fees of $500 an hour, plus expenses.

That’s just part of the $83,711.59 that Missouri taxpayers will pony up for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s brief — and failed — legal foray into “the egg wars.”

The expenditure records, obtained by the Hale Center for Journalism under Missouri’s open records law, don’t represent more than a blip in the state’s $9 billion budget, but the cost amounts to $73,711.59 more than Koster promised to spend on the case.

The money bankrolled a lawsuit Koster filed against the state of California earlier this year in what he said was an effort to protect the interests of Missouri egg farmers and shield the state’s consumers from higher egg prices.

Melissa Garcia Rodriguez has managed the livestock barn on the Des Moines agricultural campus for two summers. She knows few other Latinos interested in agriculture. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Melissa Garcia Rodriguez has managed the livestock barn on the Des Moines agricultural campus for two summers. She knows few other Latinos interested in agriculture. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

If any project has been a lesson in persistence, it is my two-part series on young adults from immigrant families and their interest in agriculture.

The premise struck me as straightforward: immigrants who land in farm country are likely to see farming or ag-related jobs as viable careers. Some may have farming in their families’ past, others may even be farming, or gardening on a commercial scale, here. Few will have family land to work, but some may find their own immigrant communities provide a niche market for crops not grown widely by mainstream farmers. Some young adults would see opportunity there, or in the broader scope of agricultural careers in the region.

The story concept emerged after I produced two stories in the summer of 2013 about refugees, including one about a man who’d been in this country for about 30 years and had finally bought his own land. I thought that surely once I started looking, I would find a variety of young adults who were pursuing various ag careers and happened to come from immigrant families.

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