WASTED: America, Let’s Stop Wasting 40% of our Food

What are your plans this weekend? Catching a movie? Perhaps grabbing food with some friends? Maybe running errands and heading to the grocery store?

While you are at the grocery store, as you are leaving with your five bags of groceries, drop two in the parking lot. Leave them there and keep walking.

Will you turn around to retrieve those groceries that you spent your hard-earned money on or will you keep walking?

If I had to hazard a guess, I would think you would turn around for them. However, this is how much food we, as Americans, are wasting every single day…

Here are some staggering food waste stats to chew over:

40% of food in America goes uneaten equating to 400 pounds of food per person each year. This is 1,250 calories per person each day.
The economic costs of growing, processing, transporting and disposing of this waste is $218 billion annually (or 1.3% of the US GDP), which equates to a cost of $1,800 for a household of four every year.
The environmental costs are shocking. Food waste causes 2.6% of all US greenhouse gas emissions per year or 3.7 million passenger vehicles worth. It represents 21% of the US agricultural water usage. The food that is wasted is grown on 19% of all US croplands, which represents a missed opportunity to utilize that land to feed people. Food waste requires 18% of all farming fertilizer. Other resources and inputs are lost with this food waste including energy, labor and much more.

Food waste happens at every stage in the food system from farm to fork and the consequences of this waste (i.e. exacerbated climate change, less food for the hungry) are disastrous.

To reduce food waste, an all hands-on deck approach is required from farm to fork. This means involving the federal government, congress, and state and local governments. Businesses need to get involved as well as every American because in America, one of the primary places where food waste occurs is in the home.

There are a multitude of reasons for high household food waste including, but not limited to: a lack of awareness and information surrounding food waste and how to store/prepare food, confusion over date labels, poor planning of meals/failure to create shopping lists etc., impulse and bulk purchases and overproduction.

Food waste can be easily prevented if we all do our part. Becoming more aware of one’s food waste, learning proper storage and cooking methods, educating yourself on food labels, planning, avoiding impulse buys and reducing production will of course reduce food waste.

To take it a step further, you can demand that your store sell “ugly” or “imperfect” produce. You can opt for smaller portions at restaurants or you can opt for restaurants that are working to reduce food waste too. You can go gleaning on your own or with a local gleaning organization to reduce food waste in your area.

So what say you, will you go back for those bags of groceries and fight to end food waste?

Personally, I am going back for my groceries. I hope you will join me.