How much food do you throw away on any given day? How often do you order take out, and end up throwing out the leftovers? Wasting food has become a larger issue for us. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Americans are trashing forty percent of foods in the U.S., the equivalent of $165 billion in uneaten food each year. The NRDC analyzed government data and case studies on the causes and extent of food losses at every level of the U.S. food supply. Their key findings include:
- Americans trash 40 percent of our food supply every year, valued at about $165 billion;
- The average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food;
- Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills;
- Just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually;
- There has been a 50 percent jump in U.S. food waste since the 1970s.
NRDC places the blame on retailers and consumers. At the retail level, grocery stores and other sellers are losing as much as $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone, with about half of the nationwide supply going uneaten. 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. 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. But consumers are also a major contributor to the problem, with the majority of food losses occurring in restaurants and household kitchens. A significant reason for this is large portions, as well as uneaten leftovers. Today, portion sizes are two to eight times larger than the government’s standard serving sizes. The NRDC is encouraging the government to further investigate this issue and to propose a new set of guidelines to reduce the waste.