Waste Not


Whenever I don’t quite finish a plate of food at a restaurant, food waste does not cross my mind. To me, I see a few scraps of food I was too full to finish. However, food waste has been a major problem in the United States, and we are just realizing that there needs to be something done. In the article “It’s Time To Get Serious About Reducing Food Waste, Feds Say,” Allison Aubrey states, “Word that Americans throw away about one-third of our available food has been getting around.” It may seem peculiar that Americans are just now beginning to understand this phenomenon, since we have been throwing away perfectly good food for quite some time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency has announced that by the year 2030, they hope American food waste will have reduced by fifty percent. If this seems like a large percentage, one may want to take into account that approximately one hundred and thirty three billion pounds of food is wasted per year. Americans are unaware that even if a product has passed its sell-by date, it is still safe to consume. It seems remarkably simple to throw away a fish carcass with a little bit of meat left on it, but in truth, that little bit of meat contributes to billions of food waste created each year. The American home not only generates food waste, but plenty of restaurants and farms do too. Clearly, us Americans are not aware of the harm we do in wasting food. The food that is thrown away could feed many around the world.

So, what can we do about our misuse? Perhaps Americans need a better education in the food and cooking department. In fact, I have witnessed hope before. I have been in a few homes where you must eat everything on your plate, no exceptions. It shocked me a bit at first that as a guest, I came across as rude if I did not eat everything on the plate. But in fact, I believe it makes perfect sense. One must only take as much as he or she knows they can eat, otherwise it may seem as if they were disrespecting the chef. Americans seem to not be able to grasp this concept, but in truth it makes perfect sense.


In the end, “the goal is to ‘create a generation of Americans that are sensitive to food waste’” (Aubrey). The issue can be compared to a different problem that graced our culture in the 1960s and 1970s; litter. Just like how it was common to throw a piece of trash out of the car window during this time, it is now common to generate tons of food waste. Today, littering is culturally unacceptable, thanks to an education campaign. Hopefully in the next twenty years or so, food waste will be considered a disgrace.


Aubrey, Allison. “It’s Time To Get Serious About Reducing Food Waste, Feds Say”. Food for Thought. npr. 16 December, 2015.




Author: ninashepperson

I am a senior at Wheaton College MA, majoring in Film and New Media Studies with a minor in Studio Art.

One thought on “Waste Not”

  1. I hail from a household where I was not allowed to eat my next meal until I have finished everything from the previous meal. This is in large part due to one of my parents having been born and raised in rural South America, and having a deep connection with the earth, food and animals. I find that unless someone has a first hand account as to what it is like to live in an area where food is not a given, most people do not think twice about tossing their leftovers. I am very curious as to how The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency plans on reducing food waste. I think it all starts at home, and it is the parents’ responsibility to get their children aware of the importance of not wasting food from a young age.


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