Photo: Flickr via jessiehart
While one in five Americans barely manages to keep food on the table, as a nation we collectively waste $165 billion worth of food each year, according to a new report.40 per cent of uneaten food winds up landfills, the National Resources defence Council found, with the average family of four wasting $2,275 annually.
“Reducing food losses
by just 15 per cent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year,” the report says.
Environmentalists might fuss over eradicating plastic bag waste, but it’s what’s tossed out inside of them that makes up the majority of American landfills.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path,” says Dana Gunders, NRDC project scientist with the food and agriculture program.
Since the 1970s, food waste has increased by 50 per cent, and the most waste occurs at home and in restaurants. A recent report by the FAO estimated each consumer throws out 650 pounds of food per year. And thanks to ballooning portion sizes (as many as eight times the recommended serving size in some cases, the NRDC says), customers are either forced to take away leftovers or leave whatever ‘s left on their plate.
But not all waste can be traced to consumer dining. Grocery stores and supermarkets toss out unsold perishable food items almost every day, and the NRDC estimates about half of all fruits and vegetables sold in stores go to waste. No wonder grocers don’t mind visits from dumpster-diving freegans willing to take castoffs.
“In fact, fresh produce is lost more than any other food product — including seafood, meat, grains and dairy — at nearly every stage in the supply chain,” the report says. “Some of this is avoidable. For instance, retailers can stop the practice of unnecessary abundance in their produce displays, which inherently leads to food spoilage.”