Personally, I don’t think so; I think a system might lead to more rather than less waste. Food rationing, or rationing of anything really, has a checkered history. It was used most notably in World War II, particularly in England which depended heavily on food supplies imported by sea, and because the sea lanes were heavily under attack by German U-boats, there were chronic food shortages. Any economist will tell you that rationing usually results in two things: hoarding and black marketeering. As food becomes more scarce, ration tickets will become something of a currency, and people will find other ways to trade under the table for things they want. Conceptually I don’t think rationing works as a way to reduce waste. It’s better suited for evening out supplies and distribution in times of shortage, but if you’re concerned about waste you’re essentially confronting the opposite problem, that being too much food and not enough need for it. Rationing to target that problem would be seen as artificial and heavy-handed, and there would be a tremendous amount of opposition from people asking, “We have enough food, so why are we being limited?” Rationing anything in the US is much harder than it is in other countries to begin with, so a food rationing system here, in my view, would probably be a total disaster.
I don’t think so either. We are not close to that stage in society nor should we ever have to be. We should educate people are food and promote composting and recycling. Moreover, the problem isn’t simply that we waste food, it’s that we eat too much food that doesn’t do anything good for us. We eat food that just makes us want to eat more. We all should pay more attention to what we are eating and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The country’s food surplus comes down to an issue of supply and demand. With the past century’s innovations in commercial farming, we’ve found ways to efficiently stock the shelves of our supermarkets with mass-produced food products that are alarmingly unhealthy and environmentally harmful, and that never run out. The popular documentary “Food, Inc.” sheds some light on the state of the food industry. With the growing awareness, food co-ops – and organic grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and New Seasons – that provide organic, locally farmed and fair-trade alternatives to our dietary staples are gaining popularity. The waste produced by traditional supermarkets is at a level where many supermarkets are taking security measures to lock their dumpsters, in fear that if consumers discover how much good food is discarded, people would stop buying food from the shelves. I know several people who nourish themselves entirely via dumpster-diving, and eat three meals a day. My opinion is that this problem would best be solved from a supply-and-demand standpoint; if more people take an interest in promoting healthy lifestyles and start shopping at co-ops and farmers markets, the goal would be a shift to organic, ecologically friendly farming and production methods that would lessen the overproduction of food and strive for a balance.
Agreed with all of the above. When you force something upon someone, there’s a chance they will rebel anyway. The best thing to do is to gradually shift our lifestyle…beginning on an individual basis as we’ve already done. In Europe, they often go grocery shopping much more frequently than we do…sometimes multiple times a week versus our once-a-week or less. I’ve found that despite my efforts I end up wasting food simply because of time…I can’t eat it fast enough before it expires. To remedy the situation I will have to adjust my schedule to make more trips (ideally within walking distance) and purchasing less, so I waste less.
If we all do our part it can make a significant difference.
As far as restauarants and their portions, we could ask for smaller sizes. They may not accommodate a price to match, but at least the food will be better used.
The issue of the government rationing food goes into some political gray areas as well. Aside from my personal belief that it is crossing a line, it could potentially create issues between federal/states’ rights. If the issue isn’t that we are literally running out of food, there would be a whole lot of debates going on before we could even agree on who was creating the rations, let alone on what the rations would be, which is a whole separate issue.
In addition, a well informed populace is better than a populace lead blindly along, even if food rationing would probably not hurt any of us at this point. People will only believe in wasting less if they come around to the conclusion that they shouldn’t waste so much, not if they are told they can’t have as much – that will just make them angry.
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