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5 Facts About the Mountains of Food We Waste

5 Facts About the Mountains of Food We Waste
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Food prices around the world are predicted to rise dramatically as a result of climate change, a huge challenge for the most impoverished people in the world who already spend up to 75 percent of their income on food. Meanwhile in the U.S., we waste a shockingly high amount of food as Dana Gunders, a scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), details on Grist and on the NRDC’s site.

1. 40 percent of the food in the U.S. goes uneaten.

That means that, per person, more than 20 pounds of food produced in the U.S. is thrown out, a total equivalent to $165 billion. Households with children probably waste even more. NRDC notes that a study of British households found that those with children throw out 41 percent more food waste.

2. 10 percent of the U.S.’s total energy budget, 50 percent of U.S. land and a whopping 80 percent of the U.S. water supply are used for food production.

By throwing out so much food, we’re also throwing away valuable natural resources. Even more, wasted food just ends up in landfill which releases almost 25 percent of US methane emissions, according to the EPA.

3. Only 10 percent of surplus edible food in the U.S. is recovered.

For all the food the U.S. produces, one out of six people in this country still do not have a secure supply of food on their tables.

Yes, something is really wrong in our system of producing food and actually getting it to people to eat.

4. The average American wastes 10 times as much food as a person in Southeast Asia.

As Gunders emphasizes, this was not the case not too long ago, in the 1970s. While it is, well, depressing to think about how wasteful the U.S. has become — and at a time when campaigns to decrease and eliminate plastic bag use, to recycle and other earth-friendly measures have seen success — it is possible to change our wasteful ways.

5. Food waste has fallen by 13 percent in the UK in the past five years thanks to a public-awareness campaign.

The UK’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign shows that it is possible to cut down on food waste if we change our habits.

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136 comments

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2:01PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Tony P, bit of self indulgence there? - when others are collecting same thing and donating it FREE to the needy, mate.

11:48AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

so sad

8:43AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

so sad. we reuse all we can and what spoils we give the dogs

7:56AM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

it's sad that this will never be fixed, even though it could be. so much of the food we grow here is given to animals that are going to be eaten. we could be eating that food instead and not eating the animals. people need to grow some brains.

1:24AM PDT on Oct 8, 2012

I can't really understand the mentality of 'wasting' food! I buy what I know I will eat, some people must be buying excessively? Any food I have which is not eaten is usually 'rounded' up and made into a left-overs meal. Things like tea bags, coffee grounds are fed to the worm bins and on the occasion I may have food which has not been eaten it is fed to my chickens or dogs. I actually collect left overs from friends to feed my chooks in exchange for free range eggs.

2:41AM PDT on Oct 4, 2012

It disgusts me everytime I think about or see how much food is wasted! We're a really wasteful generation. And we should be ashamed! Come to think of it, we have a lot to be shameful for!

9:56AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

Lalit G - one reason why poeple in poor countries cannot eat is that land is being taken away from farmers by big business to grow "cash crops" for the West, or farmers are encouraged to do this because they are told it will make them money. Then they cannot even feed their own families let alone the villagers around them. Small farms MUST be protected

3:29AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

In India a child dies of hunger and malnutrition every four minutes. Huge food wastage in the US and elsewhere is not just bad management and distribution of produce, it is simply criminal.
The pro GMO food lobby should sit up and get this drilled into their nutty brains- we don't need GMO to combat food scarcity and damage by pests, we need to manage and distribute efficiently whatever we produce and mind that is just more than enough for the needs of the whole humanity

5:04PM PDT on Sep 30, 2012

My friend started selling food over here in Australia, that was near the "sell by date " just short.
Most big companies sold him this food at near give away prices.
He sold it at near give away prices but managed to make a good profit.
Last year some one tried to buy his 6 shops for $20,000000 but he refused because it only amounted to 4 month's frofit.
Not bad for a guy with a dream! is it?

1:46PM PDT on Sep 30, 2012

I wonder how much food we wasted 45 years ago when grocery stores were half the size they are today. One poster said which I agreed, portions of everything have grown. Actually the sizes of families have shrunk but we have more food than ever.

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