Food thrown out, gone bad, or not eaten, has become a wasted resource in America. Some studies have put food waste at 30-40% which is almost 1/3 of our national food supply. Of course, the perishable food items, specifically fruit and vegetables, are the most commonly thrown out. It can be tempting to point the finger at restaurants or grocery stores, but the reality is that food waste is a household phenomenon. Food distribution can also be considered part of the problem.
Shockingly, Americans are throwing away nearly 6 billion pounds of food every month. The main reasons for this include:
1. Cosmetic reasons: Foods such as fruits and vegetables have blemishes on them or lose their appeal becoming discolored over time.
2. Over-purchasing and over-stocking: Buying in bulk is the new fad and stores cater to saving money when this is done. The consumer feels they are getting the best value for their dollar, even if they don’t eat all they have purchased.
3. Sell-dates and expiration dates: There can cause confusion about how long a food can be stored for, and most people are overly cautious and better safe than sorry when it comes to this factor.
The problem is that hunger and food insecurity are a problem in America. Nearly 40% of food supply is being lost. There are nearly 50 million people who live in households that do not have adequate food supply. Our food supply costs nearly $165 billion and 25% of our fresh water supply is used for this production. That means that water supply is also wasted.
We might have been raised and told to finish everything on our plates. Yet today’s food culture displays the bigger the better, making portion distortion a leading cause of the obesity epidemic. It is important to learn how to shop, cook, and store food properly, even if it takes added time or extra dishes to clean. Get behind the movement of legislation that supports lowering food waste helps our society as well. Donating extra food is always highly recommended. Someone who is looking for their next meal at a shelter, on the street, or at the food bank, are in need. These facilities are primarily volunteer based, and every little effort will help. Check the shelves at home before grocery shopping to see what you truly need first. Buying in bulk is resourceful, but this may be more applicable to processed foods with a longer life that allow for more time to eat them. Food is our fuel and the body needs nutrients to function. Don’t waste such an important resource we are lucky to have.