Sunday, July 12, 2015

Waste Not: "Just Eat It," the Documentary

Back in January, 2013, I made two New Years Resolutions. The first was to stop wasting so much food; the second was stop using so much plastic. I did fairly well on the first, though it interfered a bit with the second. Being more on top of food storage meant a certain investment in Tupperware-like plastic containers. Hm.

Anyway, little did I know at the time that my personal battle against wasting food was a much larger issue. 

Irony abounds in the fact that, as a nation, we are fatter than ever, even while more and more Americans enter into "food insecurity" -- not having enough money left over after bills for food--every day. 

The irony does not end there. While our dependence on food assistance grows, and the difficulty in funding it does too, there is, in fact, an abundance of food that goes into landfills via restaurant and grocery store dumpsters, and our own household trash cans. According to a study done in 2011, approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste, and about one third of the food produced in the world for humans is lost or wasted.

A sorry state of affairs.

And it's not just a problem in the way that would have aggravated many of our mother's "waste not, want not" philosophies. If your mom (like mine) was one of those--made you clean your plate, and smuggled home uneaten bread rolls from restaurants in her purse--then you know what I'm talking about.  It's also increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue.

In 2014, two young filmmakers decided to document their efforts to not just reduce their own food waste, but to literally consume the discarded food of others, for six months. The resulting film, "Just Eat It," is available in its entirety on YouTube. Serious eww factor warning: they regularly "rescued" food from dumpsters and. ate. it. Not only did they never get food poisoning and die (not that they mentioned, anyway) they found such an abundance of available free food that they couldn't even store it all.

Filmmaker Grant Baldwin eyes a dumpster filled with discarded though viable yogurt.

So why DO we waste so much food? The film answers this question in a variety of ways, with enough blame to go around. From confusing labeling requirements  (expire dates and "sell by" dates are not, apparently, the same thing) and safety standards, to our own kitchens, where fresh produce goes bad and dairy products always find their way to the back of the fridge. 

I highly recommend this film, and since, like I said, you can watch it now for free (natch!) on YouTube, it couldn't be easier. 

Bon app├ętit!

For more how to feed people, not garbage cans, visit the "Just Eat It" Facebook page at:

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