|Put something on their plates, for god's sake!|
In a country (ours) where a lot of people will go hungry Thursday, 10 percent of the available food supply is wasted annually by retailers and another 20 percent is wasted in homes. Those figures are astonishing in a land where 14 percent of the people aren't fed properly (according to the USDA).
This is a generous country, I think we all agree, so what's the problem with all this waste? We are conditioned to waste by the culture, by the food growers and sellers who profit by it, by the lack of expense of our food and by our extraordinary abundance. We have no real reason to think in terms of being resourceful. Most of those in the middle and at the top of our economy know few of that 14 percent who don't eat well.
Labeling of many of our goods is often confusing. "Sell by ..." does not mean that the food inside the can will be spoiled if not eaten by the date on the label. It means it will be best if eaten before that date. Milk, for example, is clearly marked by the date at which you should have consumed it, lest it spoil. But a can of beans not eaten by Jan. 3 will not be spoiled. So eat the damn beans.
There are programs--generally smallish--across the country where grocery stores give up their aged produce to organizations using them for compost. Many state laws will not allow for prepared meals or dishes from the grocery store or the restaurant to be given to shelters, but they can go into the ground to enrich it.
One of the real gifts we can give each other this Thanksgiving, I think, would be a renewed awareness of our food supply and the people who don't get their share of it. Feeding the poor is the very least we can do, even with a Republican Congress.