KUNC

         

Tossed Out

Artist Valerie Miller painted "Anna" on the wall of her uncles' dairy in Waukon, Iowa. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Artist Valerie Miller painted "Anna" on the wall of her uncles' dairy in Waukon, Iowa. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

A bit over a year ago, I heard a story we called Singer-songwriter’s ode to agriculture, a lovely conversation with Susan Werner about her album Hayseed.

Then, in the fall, I saw some of Marji Guyler-Alaniz’s FarmHer photos at the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s annual conference.  Among the women Guyler-Alaniz had photographed was Danelle Myer, who I had met for a segment of My Farm Roots. The music and the photographs stuck with me as I continued to report on agriculture.

I visited Waukon, Iowa, in April, arguably the drabbest month. Though the hills had finally shed their snow cover, the fields stood dark—full of anticipation but lacking color. On the wall of the W. W. Homestead Dairy, the building in which I found the farmer-entrepreneurs I was in town to meet, I saw a mural of a cow named Anna. It turned out that the artist who painted Anna, with help from willing kids of all ages, was the niece of the dairymen. I saw more of her cows around town, and eventually noticed her store-front studio, Steel Cow. I didn’t meet Valerie Miller on that trip, but her paintings were the final nudge I needed to pursue a story about art inspired by agriculture.

About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the U.S. in 2012, compared to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper. (Pat Aylward/NET News)
About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the U.S. in 2012, compared to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper. (Pat Aylward/NET News)

We waste more than 30 percent of the food we could be buying and eating here in the U.S., according to numbers from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, enough food to feed millions of hungry people.

From farm to processing plant to food company to grocery store to table, food is wasted all along the food chain, as we reported on in our series “Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.” But the real problem, at least here in the U.S., is mostly with us.

“In developed nations, hyperefficient farming practices, plenty of refrigeration, and top-notch transportation, storage, and communications ensure that most of the food we grow makes it to the retail level,” author Elizabeth Royte wrote recently at nationalgeographic.com

(Will Curran/Flickr)
(Will Curran/Flickr)

Airline flights and legal fees in California; rental cars and hotel rooms in Indiana; $19 at Yogurtland in Los Angeles and expert witness fees of $500 an hour, plus expenses.

That’s just part of the $83,711.59 that Missouri taxpayers will pony up for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s brief — and failed — legal foray into “the egg wars.”

The expenditure records, obtained by the Hale Center for Journalism under Missouri’s open records law, don’t represent more than a blip in the state’s $9 billion budget, but the cost amounts to $73,711.59 more than Koster promised to spend on the case.

The money bankrolled a lawsuit Koster filed against the state of California earlier this year in what he said was an effort to protect the interests of Missouri egg farmers and shield the state’s consumers from higher egg prices.

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