3.7 million. That’s how many gallons of milk are being dumped each day by U.S. dairy farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more of the country has shut down to halt the spread of the virus, farms are facing the reality that there are fewer and fewer profitable ways to sell their produce. Restaurants and bars – which are big consumers of fresh produce – have been shut down and food supply chains become strained as workers fall ill from the virus. And without a way to profit off their produce, farmers are left to throw away their food.
It’s not just milk. One million pounds of onions have been thrown away; 750,000 chicken eggs are being smashed every day. Many farms are plowing and destroying produce like beans and cabbage, or leaving ripe produce to rot in the fields.
This is a nightmare. In 2017, in supposedly “good” economic times, before the mass unemployment we’re seeing today, 40 million Americans were food insecure. One in six children weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from. Given the skyrocketing unemployment rate and the abysmal relief the government has offered to laid-off workers, these numbers have only increased. And this is just in America. There are 800 million people who face hunger worldwide!
In a humane and rational world, we would distribute this food to the people who are hungry, especially now that so many millions have lost their jobs and income. But we live under capitalism, where products are only valuable as long as they can make a profit for the capitalist – even if that product is so essential to life as food. As long as capitalism exists, we’ll continue to see this horrible scene of wasted food amidst mass hunger.
Featured image credit: Nikki Boxler via Storyful