Can You Guess How Much Food Waste Is Produced in the US?
If you’re like most Americans, your answer to the question above would be along the lines of just about everything we eat, right? Well, not exactly! It turns out that food waste in the US amounts to about $165 billion dollars a year—that’s enough money to feed every hungry person in America every day. So, how much food does go to waste in the US? The short answer is about 40%. Let’s explore this figure more and learn some ways we can reduce our food waste at home and in the office.
5 facts about food waste
The average American throws away 185 pounds of food per year. That’s a lot of money and wasted resources! The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your own food waste and save money. Start by keeping track of how much food you throw away. Over time, you’ll start to see patterns (and more importantly, you’ll be able to take action). Here are five other interesting facts about food waste 1. Americans spend less on groceries than any other country in the world—but we also throw out more food than anyone else. In fact, 40% of all food produced worldwide ends up being thrown out. That’s crazy! We could feed every hungry person on earth three times over with all of that wasted food. But since we don’t have any plans to stop throwing it away anytime soon, let’s focus on what we can do about it instead… 2. Wasted food costs households $1,350 each year on average—that’s nearly $200 billion annually across America as a whole! It would cost us less if we stopped wasting so much and started eating leftovers instead… 3.
What causes all this food to go bad?
There are two main causes of food waste: spoilage and excess. According to Harvard Law School, 30% of food waste is caused by spoilage (sometimes due to temperature fluctuations or improper storage) and 25% is caused by over-purchasing. In other words, almost half of all food waste occurs before it even reaches our refrigerators. The USDA estimates that about 40% of vegetables grown on American farms go unharvested or unsaleable because they don’t meet aesthetic standards—even though they are perfectly edible. For example, supermarkets often reject tomatoes with dimples or too much green on their skin; but these imperfect fruits taste just as good as tomatoes without those cosmetic flaws.
Why can’t people afford fresh foods?
The problem of food waste is especially significant for people with low incomes. Lower-income groups have to spend a larger proportion of their budgets on food, so if they are forced to buy food past its sell-by date or before it’s harvested, they could be at risk of financial hardship. But what really gets me angry is when I see perfectly good produce ending up in trash cans and landfills, just because some people can’t afford to buy what they need to feed themselves and their families.
2 ways to fight hunger and reduce food waste
According to a study by Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food—roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption—are lost or wasted each year worldwide. In addition to squandering valuable resources and money, food waste also increases global warming because discarded food ends up rotting in landfills that release methane gas. One way you can reduce your own household’s contribution to these alarming statistics is by buying only what you need and eating leftovers. Another simple trick: Keep track of expiration dates, rotate your stock so you don’t end up with old ingredients, and read product labels so you know how long foods will last. If it looks or smells bad, it probably is; get rid of it!