The journey a vegetable takes from being planted on the farm to the grocery store can be long and complicated. First off, not all vegetables meet the standards to make the trip. Then, the vegetables that do get shipped face a variety of challenges.
The biggest waste happens when the vegetables are harvested and being prepared for shipping. Grocery stores only purchase vegetables and fruits that look good. There are no exceptions made for oddly shaped vegetables and these get discarded or set aside as livestock feed. In a community garden, all the produce is used. Even the weird-looking vegetables, the too-small carrots, the lopsided beets, the slightly bug-eaten cabbage. These are still perfectly good to eat even if they don’t look perfect.
The process of shipping fruits and vegetables thousands of miles from the farm to the grocery store is another area where lots of waste happens. The vegetables may rot on the long drive or show up in less than ideal conditions and get discarded before they make it to the shelf. Community gardens eliminate the whole transport issue because, of course, the gardens are local. They aren’t going to sit in a tractor-trailer on the highway spoiling and losing value. Freshly picked vegetables are always best taste-wise and nutritionally. The less a vegetable has to travel, the less likely it will become waste.
Additionally, community gardens can tailor what they grow to suit the specific desires of the community. If the gardens are growing what the local people want, then it will be eaten and not wasted. Community gardens thus are an excellent resource and strategy for reducing food waste.