Mar 06 2016

Food for thought…how much food do you throw away?

Published by at 12:00 pm under General

Food for thought…how much food do you throw away?
Wasted food in America is costing us billions and damaging our environment.

There is a tremendous amount of waste taking place in our country every year…to the tune of $162 billion a year! A recent study suggests between 31-40 % of our nation’s food supply gets thrown away annually, which translates to approximately 20lbs of food per person per month. Food in our own kitchens, grocery stores and restaurants gets tossed into the trash because it is no longer fresh, or presentable for sale. According to Project Scientist, Dana Gunders of the National Resource Defense Council, “…The amount of food Americans waste has increased over 50 percent in the last 40 years…” (1,2,3)*

Proper nutrition and good gut health are critical in building a strong immune system and is vitally important for children in establishing a healthy foundation for development. Despite the amount of food wasted annually in our country, there are plenty of households where proper nutrition is scarce. Food insecurity threatens a child’s critical foundation from which to build strong academic, physical and mental health. “…According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life… “4*

Additionally, wasted food in our country translates to wasting a global resource. “…Food markets are ultimately linked, so the price of corn in the United States has a big impact on the price of corn in Africa…”2 There is also a huge environmental impact when it comes to wasted food. The process of getting food from the farm to our tables is using up 10% of the total US energy budget. It takes energy to grow food and raise cattle. It takes energy to run farm equipment, to harvest it and then to clean and transport it. Growing food uses up 50% of our land and 80% of all freshwater consumed in the US. After production, if it is not eaten, wasted food ends up adding to overcapacity in landfills. This has become the biggest component in our country’s municipal solid waste, and accounts for a great deal of our methane emissions. Approximately 30% of the fertilizer, 35% of fresh water and 31% of cropland used to grow food is eventually wasted.(1,2,3)*

Thus far, there isn’t a huge incentive for consumers to cut back on waste, as the cost doesn’t outweigh the convenience. On the industry level, more waste translates to more product sold, so there hasn’t been a huge incentive there either. But if we want to make a change, there are things we can do as individuals. We can start by cutting back on what we purchase at the grocery store and only buy what you need for a couple of days, rather than buying for a week and possibly throwing out that which is no longer fresh. Save and eat your leftovers. Check your refrigerator regularly to make sure you are using up what you have before buying more. In restaurants, portion sizes are larger than they were decades ago. So, split a meal or take home your leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day. Not only is this cutting back on waste, but it is a good diet and budget tip as well. Did you know that the average cookie has tripled in size since the mid 80’s. Portion sizes have increased as well across the board. It’s no wonder obesity rates are off the chart!. (1,2)*

It is estimated that reducing food waste by just 15% would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year. There are things that can be done on a larger scale of course, on farms, in the grocery stores and in restaurants, not only in our country but around the world, and there are plans in action. It takes the cooperation of and a collaborative effort by businesses, government and consumers. If the right changes were to take place worldwide, we could feed millions around the globe.2*

Pledging to make the effort to cut back on food losses in your household will not only help this larger problem, but it will also save you money. It is estimated that the average American family of four throws away an average $1,484 worth of edible food a year.5*

Next week we will look at some of the things being done in our country and around the globe to help with this problem of food waste.

Healthiest wishes,





  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.comp/2013/01/03/food-waste-america_n_2404451.html

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