America throws away half its food

Posted by Christine, August 23, 2012

Aug 21 (Reuters) – Americans throw away nearly half their food every year, waste worth roughly $165 billion annually, according to a study released on Tu esday.

“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That’s money and precious resources down the drain,” said Dana Gunders, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food and agriculture program.

The NRDC report said Americans discard 40 percent of the food supply every year, and the average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food.

Just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. It also would lighten the burden on landfills, where food waste makes up the largest component of solid waste, according to the NRDC, a nonprofit environmental organization.

Particularly worrisome, the organization said, was evidence that there has been a 50 percent jump in U.S. food waste since the 1970s. Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores account for a big part of the wasted food.

But consumers and restaurants are also to blame, preparing large portions that result in leftovers that often go uneaten.

The NRDC said it is asking for the U.S. government to study losses in the food system and set goals for waste reduction.

“No matter how sustainably our food is farmed, if it’s not being eaten, it is not a good use of resources,” said Gunders. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Dan Grebler)

The report says:

The cost of wasted food is staggering. In addition to the
wasting of water, energy, chemicals, and global warming
pollution that goes into producing, packaging, and
transporting discarded food, nearly all of the food waste ends
up in landfills where it decomposes and releases methane, a
heat-trapping greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent
that carbon dioxide. Consider these cost estimates of all the
food that never gets eaten in the U.S., and imagine just how
much we can save by wasting less food:
25 percent of all freshwater used in U.S.7
4 percent of total U.S. oil consumption7
$165 billion per year8 (more than $40 billion from households)9
$750 million per year just to dispose of the food
33 million tons of landfill waste (leading to greenhouse gas emissions)