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FOOD WASTE

League of California in the spring of 2001. Court and lobbying fees in international trade disputes can mount into the millions, far beyond the capacity of individual producers in developing countries where government support for the industry is nonexistent.

Trade associations can wield enough power to coun- termand multilateral international treaties. The World Trade Organization was established 1 January 1995 out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of the Uruguay Round to adjudicate trade disputes ac- cording to a scientific risk-based assessment. Now, many food trade associations, like the science-based NFPA and the GMA, participate actively in that process, supplying regulatory and scientific experts to the WTO Codex Al- imentarius Committees to prevent the formation of fu- ture technical barriers to trade.

See also Civilization and Food; Codex Alimentarius; Com- modity Price Supports; FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization); Government Agencies; Government Agencies, U.S.; International Agencies; Maize.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alden, John R. A History of the American Revolution. New York:

Knopf, 1969. Reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1989.

Barty-King, Hugh. Food for Man and Beast: The Story of the London Corn Trade Association, the London Cattle Food Trade Association and the Grain and Feed Trade Association, 1878–

1978. London: Hutchinson, 1978.

Grocery Manufacturers of America. Available at www.gma brands.com.

National Food Processors Association. Available at www.nfpa -food.org.

Robin Yeaton Woo

FOOD WASTE. Food waste is the discarding of po- tentially usable food. Both edible and inedible foods may be considered garbage and therefore wasted. Edible foods are considered inedible when their quality deteriorates until they become unhealthy or noxious. Food deterio- ration occurs from microbial contamination or from rotting as a consequence of overproduction, storage problems, or improper preparation. Food waste also oc- curs through food use that returns little nutritional value, like overprocessing and overconsumption.

Edible foods are also wasted when cultural or indi- vidual preferences deem food undesirable. For example, some people dislike bread crusts, so they remove them and discard them. Societies with abundant food supplies often consider reusing leftover foods as inconvenient, while less food-rich societies regard food reuse as im- perative. Specific parts of animals and plants considered edible in some cultures are considered inedible in others. Animal parts viewed as waste may include bones or shells, skins or scales, fat, blood, intestines, brains, eyes, and

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stomachs. Plant parts viewed as waste may include cores, seeds, stems, outer leaves, shells, rinds, husks, or peels.

Cultural Variations in Food Waste

Food systems in different cultures vary in the propor- tion of food waste that is discarded. Cultural variations exist in what is considered garbage, and understanding cultural food rules is crucial in examining food waste. For example, intestines and other internal organs are considered delicacies in China but are discarded as offal in many Western countries. Animal fats are consumed or used as fuel in societies like the Inuit, but in postin- dustrial nations fats are often trimmed and discarded to reduce caloric intake. Blood is an ingredient in dishes like black pudding in Britain but is discarded in many other societies.

Cultural differences in beliefs about what is edible versus inedible exist more often for animal foods than for plant foods. This may be because animals are similar to humans, so that edibility involves more symbolic mean- ings. Also, plant food wastes often constitute parts indi- gestible by humans that therefore have no nutritional value, such as vegetable rinds.

Moral values in most cultures admonish food waste. However, food protests and food riots may intentionally waste food to make ideological and ethical points. Many groups are proud of their efficient use of all parts of a slaughtered animal, such as Cajun claims to use “every- thing except the squeal” of hogs. Agricultural societies often feed plant food wastes to animals, while many in- dustrial societies process by-products of animal slaugh- ter into livestock feed. Such practices recycle undesired by-products into edible foods and minimize actual food waste. Some societies accept the waste of less-desirable portions of animals and plants as a sign that they have at- tained a state of affluence and can afford to consume only high-quality items.

Food Systems and Food Waste

Postindustrial societies waste food across all stages of the food system. Food production wastes preharvest food through natural disasters, diseases, or pests; harvested food by inefficient collection of edible crops or livestock; and postharvest food in storage or contamination losses. Food processing wastes food in spillage, spoilage, dis- carding substandard edible materials, or removing edible food parts in inefficient processing. Food distribution wastes food by offering more food than consumers will purchase and then discarding unsold products. Food ac- quisition wastes food when consumers purchase more food than they use. Food preparation wastes food by re- moving edible parts of foodstuffs, spilling or contami- nating foods, and rendering foods inedible through improper handling and overcooking. Food consumption wastes food by taking larger portions than can be eaten or by spilling food. Digestion, transport, and metabolism of foods in the body waste nutrients through inefficient

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