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Who are the Biggest Food Wasters?

Who are the Biggest Food Wasters?

My garbage bags have gotten lighter and lighter over the past few years. I could attribute this mitigation to the fact that I am throwing away a lot less food. As a kid, the family garbage can needed to be emptied nearly everyday, or else it would begin to reek the smell of rotting food. Now, if I were so inclined to riffle through my own garbage, its contents consist mainly of spent plastic wrappers, and bits of packaging. This makes trips to the curb far less of a workout than it used to be, and provides that sense of self-satisfaction that only a compost-happy, green consumer could attain.

But the issue of food waste is pretty dramatic when you take a look at restaurants in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Loss Project, Americans are inclined to discard more than 25 percent (approximately 25.9 million tons) of all the food produced domestically (some estimates are significantly higher topping off at about 50 percent), and much of this waste comes directly from spoiled, or uneaten, food intended for restaurants. A recent NPR report stated that food waste from restaurants makes up 15 percent of all the food that ends up in landfills, and that food waste makes up the largest percentage of materials that go into landfills and incinerators. And because the food rots so fast, it quickly generates methane and, yes, it contributes to climate change. An estimated 10 percent of food purchased for restaurants and professional kitchens winds up in landfills, which is a little better of a percentage than what is coming out of residential homes, but still unsettling.

There is work being done to institute food waste awareness in restaurants and large culinary institutions, but that is on a case-by-case basis. Some restaurants have initiated a zero-waste policy by integrating aggressive composting into their routine, but they are in the minority. The bottom line is activating a behavioral change, one that would alter habits enough to make wasting food the equivalent to not recycling a bottle or can. But this is easier said than done.

What do you do, in your home or your place of business, to curb food waste? How do you feel we could address the abundance of food waste moving through our system and arriving at landfills each day?

 

Related:
35 Ways to Give Kitchen Trash a Second Life

Read more: Blogs, Conscious Consumer, Eco-friendly tips, Following Food, Food, Home, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

71 comments

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10:42PM PST on Dec 25, 2013

The information in this blog is extremely useful for the people.

restaurants in schaumburg il

2:52AM PDT on May 15, 2013

Also eating too much junk food too.

2:51AM PDT on May 15, 2013

Ah well America at last you have realised that your wasteful attitude to food. Now you can do something about it I hope. Malnutrition isn't only caused by lack of food, it is caused by overeating too!

10:52PM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

o much waste in fast-food-industry dumpsters. These businesses should be ashamed. Much of it is discarded because it has passed the peak of flavor and/or freshness, not because it is unwholesome or unsafe to eat. WHY is this not donated to food pantries and soup kitchens? Often, breakfast menu items are discarded 1/2 hour before the lunch menu comes on, some of these were just cooked. Often there is a shelter or pantry within town with hungry people praying for enough to feed a hungry family for even a day or two. It all boils down to lack of care and concern for their fellow man. To prove this food is safe to eat, they will still sell it to you 5 minutes before it goes in the trash. They just won't cook any more of it as the menu is rotating. This is the shame of our nation.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/restaurants-huge-producers-of-food-waste.html#ixzz2S19DmU2s

4:15AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

ty

12:31PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Thanks

8:50AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

Hate wasting food! It should be illegal by the way!!!

12:12AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

I absolutely HATE throwing away food, especially since I come from a country where millions are starving (India) - therefore the whole Western disposable attitude (which is finally starting to improve) really grates on my nerves!! I've found that ordering entrees instead of main meals when I'm not that hungry really helps cuts down on the food waste, and I always get my leftovers taken away if there are any! In fact, I'm considering taking my own container to restaurants (if the Health and Safety rules allow it) so that I don't waste plastic containers (which of course I recycle if I use them).

9:32AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Just awful. There's no excuse for this waste,especially from the wealthier countrie. Why not encorporate a program that picks up and distributes food leftovers from all restaurants and deliver the food to local shelters,Meals on Wheels ect...Supermarkets should also be made to do their part. Add Hotels to that list as well. Some of the leftover wilting Veggies, fruits and stale bread can be given to animals. Off !!! It sounds easy enough,no???

2:01AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Thanks

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