By Cameron Ruen, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County
Food is wasted all along the supply chain, from the moment seeds are planted in soil through the final tip of a dump truck at the landfill. “Just Eat It” brings this invisible fact to the forefront by documenting many ways food and its nutrients are discarded.
Surprise and astonishment were evident by gasps in the audience at the unsightly amounts of food being discarded at many points in the food chain. Examples included celery plants being stripped of outer stalks to conform to packaging constraints, peaches that do not pass inspection due to grocery store appearance requirements, packaged food removed from grocery store shelves days before misunderstood labels dictate freshness or expiration, dumpsters full of food perfectly good for donation, the amount of food thrown away from consumers’ refrigerators, and the list could go on. The food industry is complex, massive, and lucrative to say the least.
The One Earth Film Festival organized the event and a post-film discussion that invited audience members to share the most impactful moments of the film. These included images of throwing away a quarter of a person’s shopping bags directly after purchase, producing one hamburger uses the amount of water used in an hour and a half shower, the fact that best by dates are not indicative of food safety, the point that composting may make people feel better about wasting, and the perception that eating what you take at school may be positive or negative depending on how you look at waste or intake quantity.