When we scrape off our dishes after a large meal, too full to finish the remaining scraps on our plate, we rarely pause and think about the significance of our action. It seems routine to us: if we have leftover food scraps that are unfit for eating, shouldn’t they be thrown in the garbage? Our routine practices, unfortunately, make it difficult for us to conceptualize the magnitude of global food waste. The problem is bigger than we think.
Forty percent of food in the United States is never eaten, amounting to $165 billion a year in waste. More than 20 pounds of food is wasted each month for each of 311 million Americans, amounting to $1,350 to $2,275 annually in waste for a family of four. Think of it as dumping 80 quarter-pound hamburger patties in the garbage each month, or chucking two dozen boxes of breakfast cereal into the trash bin rather than putting them in your pantry.
Much of the waste that inhabits our nation’s dumps comes from farms and supermarkets that were unable to sell produce. About 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost or wasted in the United States, with over 97 percent of food waste ending up in a landfill. Most of this produce is so fresh when it arrives at the dumps that people could have consumed it, had it not come in contact with other waste.
When we live in a nation so devoted to helping others in poverty, it is hard to picture starvation in our own country. Most Americans have the luxury of being able to go down the road to pick up fresh produce every week and are unable to see the issue in throwing away left-overs, but if we just learned to eat and live responsibly, we could make a world of a difference beginning in our own neighborhoods.
Reference: “40% of U.S. Food Wasted, Report Says.” This Just In RSS. N.p., 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 01 May 2016.