Food Waste Food Waste

Published on September 8th, 2012 | by Mary Gerush

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How Could You Help The World If You Wasted Less Food?

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Food Waste

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) just published a new study on food waste. The author, Dana Gunders, highlights wasted food’s real cost:

Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

The report outlines how much food is lost at each step in our industrial food supply chain, from production through processing and distribution, and ultimately into the consumers’ hands. This isn’t the first time we’ve written about this issue. This picture tells a compelling story.

Quantifying Food Waste

We waste a lot of food at home.

In the NRDC report, Ms. Gunders adds that “reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.”

So, let’s think this through…

I spend about $100 a week on my family’s groceries. We don’t do justice to our leftovers, and I toss out more than a few pieces of rotten veg weekly. What if we ate the leftovers (or cooked the right amount to begin with)? What if I used my perishables diligently? Instead of throwing $40 a week into my trash can, I could get a pedicure! (Just teasing. I wanted to make sure you were paying attention.)

What good could I do with the $40 a week I waste today? What good could we all do?

Image Credits: Patrick Denker via flickr/CC and the National Resources Defense Council

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About the Author

An accomplished environmental and food author, you can find Mary Gerush on !



  • http://www.WebCookingClasses.com Chef Todd Mohr

    Thank you for a great article, Mary!

    The average American wastes $2200 per year of food that spoils before cooking!

    The best first step, I believe, is to know the EXACT portions of what you feed your family. On average, that means 4-5 ounces of Protein, 3-4 ounces Starch, 3-4 ounces Vegetables.

    If everyone had a digital kitchen scale, they would WEIGH all their food, whether they’re a big eater or small, there’s a correct portion. Then, purchasing and preparing only what is needed and only what will be consumed can save hundreds of dollars in wasted food.

    Don’t over-buy, don’t over-cook, don’t over-portion and you’ll save your wallet as well as the planet!

    Chef Todd Mohr

  • Mary Gerush

    Chef Todd. Thanks for weighing in and for the tips. I love the way you state your three recommendations to not over-buy, over-cook, or over-portion. Simply said but oh so true. My biggest challenge is using all the produce I buy. It always looks so great! I buy a good variety, forgetting that my family doesn’t eat the same veggies I do. I’m going to write your words of wisdom at the top of my grocery list and on my refrigerator!

  • http://www.greenbusinessowner.com/about/ Scott Cooney

    Mary, if you cut your food waste, you deserve a pedicure! Treat yourself when you do something good! :)

  • Pingback: Eat Drink Better | Let’s Talk Food Waste Tomorrow! | Page: 1 | Eat Drink Better

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