A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Food waste: Let the state keep out of it

Written May 18th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

This was not food waste but a snack while writing about the state’s plan tio reduce wasted food.

As part of Governor Brown’s recent executive edict to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has published a plan to reduce food waste. What it boils down to is a plan to require citizens in Albany and around the state to clean their plate or else.

The plan really isn’t a plan yet. It’s a plan to make more plans, plans to acquire resources to carry out the planning, and then to impose whatever strategies officials devise by putting forth rules that citizens must obey.

The DEQ claims that 25 to 40 percent of the food produced or imported in this country is wasted. And it thinks that the government, the state government in the case of Oregon, can do something about that. Well, good luck!

You’d think that producers, importers and distributors, and especially retailers would have enough incentives to prevent spoilage. And that consumers, you and me, don’t go out and intentionally buy more food than we think we want or think we can use.

Stuff happens, though. We buy a pound of  burger, then put it in the freezer for later, but later never comes because we don’t want to bother with thawing that lump of flesh which by now is gray. So eventually, after taking up space for months, the lump gets thrown out.

What’s the state proposing to do about that? Require taxpayers to file monthly reports on the contents of their freezers along with plans for what to cook and what to discard? And then hire inspectors to do spot checks? Who needs search warrants to search your freezer when inspections could be justified for the sake of the planet’s environmental health?

Part of the DEQ’s vision is an increase in the amount of food waste and garbage that is collected and turned into compost.  (Is there a shortage of compost? Can’t the compost business be left alone to seek its own balance of supply and demand?)

In May 2017, Albany turned down a proposal by Republic Services to collect yard debris weekly instead of biweekly so that the bins could also receive food waste. This would have cost consumers more money, and in the absence of overwhelming demand, the council wisely said no. So now, if the regulators in the DEQ have their way, food waste collection and recycling might become mandatory along with the higher price.

Sure, it’s too bad that a lot of food goes to waste. But we don’t need regulators to try to prevent, at public expense, what is a natural feature of a big economy where, thank God and our farmers, usually there’s plenty of food to be had.

You want to prevent people wasting food? Create conditions where you need a government ration card in order to buy a stick of butter or an egg. (hh)

9 responses to “Food waste: Let the state keep out of it”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Here is the executive order you referenced:

    I wonder….how many unfunded mandates will flow from this “order” that will impact the local Albany budget?

    How will the City of Albany fund a staff of Food Police to enforce the Gov’s “order”?

    How will the City of Albany fund a staff to mitigate youth depression and mental health problems caused by the impacts of climate change? Yep….the Gov’s “order” covers that too.

  2. don says:

    Part of the reason this happens is the food is cheap. Hasso, I can see that I need to raise the price of the hamburger!!!!!
    I can not believe how hard some people are working to run our lives.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Food WAS cheap. Ha, fixed it for you. Haven’t you all noticed that food prices have gone up under COVID-19?

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Say what??? Government at my dinner table to monitor left over scraps! One look at my waist line & you’d see we don’t waste much. Hey…make a central location where “crumbs & scraps” could be taken & placed on a table for the less fortunate to pawn thru to nourish themselves. Food composting…..Ya great, another name for a rat feast!

  4. H. R. Richner says:

    A fundamental function of government is the misallocation of resources. In practical terms it means that more government creates more poverty. I bet that during the Great Depression there was less food waste right along with the progressives’ ideal of more equal distribution of wealth and income.

    But isn’t food waste a misallocation of resources, you may well ask. Economics teaches us that the creation of waste is cheaper than the prevention of it.

  5. Patrick John Quinn says:

    Still laughing at the thought of bread lines like they had in communist Russia???? Not so far fetch now is it??? just my opinion pat

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      You mean like same we had in USA during the Great Depression?

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        Don’t forget the Eastern Bloc countries until Russia/China “lost” the Cold War and let us start turning ourselves into Socialists/Communists faster than they could have ever imagined?

      • Patrick John Quinn says:

        Just like them Ray, just like them….


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