How conscientious are we really when it comes to food waste? Regardless of our growing awareness of carefully sourcing our food, Americans are still big over-achievers when considering how much of it we take home, how much we actually need and, ultimately, how much we end up tossing in the trash.
Kyle Rabin wrote about the increasingly troubling statistics surrounding America's food waste for EcocentricBlog.org in his terrific article "18 Little-Known Facts That Will Motivate You to Cut Back on Food Waste":
With nearly 100 percent certainty I can assure you we won’t be hearing President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, or their respective surrogates, talking about America’s food waste dilemma (or what I and others would describe as a crisis) in the months ahead. That’s too bad since food waste is creating significant social, economic and environmental consequences for the US (and the world).
This growing crisis and the fact that discarded food provides a unique lens through which to view the water/energy/agriculture nexus (a topic of great interest to us here at GRACE and Ecocentric), prompted me to take a closer look at the food that goes uneaten and how it impacts Americans. While researching this trending topic, I learned some interesting facts I thought I’d share.
What a Waste!
1. Between one quarter and one half of the more than 590 billion pounds of food produced each year in the United States is squandered during the farm-to-table supply chain. Using this range, food writer and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom estimates that, every day America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California – and sometimes it’s as much as two stadiums full.
2. Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50 percent since 1974.
3. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010 discarded food represented the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.
4. Food waste represents a significant cost to local governments (and ultimately taxpayers who already paid for it once as consumers), which is why many municipalities like the City of Santa Monica, California and Charleston County, South Carolina are adopting food waste collection and composting programs.
5. Food waste is particularly egregious at a time when hunger is a growing problem and an increasing human rights issue. If we wasted just 5 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 4 million Americans; 20 percent less waste could feed 25 million Americans annually.
6. Approximately $100 to $160 billion is spent each year on producing food that is ultimately wasted. (This estimate comes from Jonathan Bloom’s American Wasteland.)
This article originally appeared at EcocentricBlog.org. It is partially posted here with permission from the author.
Kyle Rabin serves as Director of GRACE’s Water and Energy Programs. Kyle holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University. (from Ecocentric Blog)
Photo Credit: UWGB Sustainability Blog
Chris Regan and Ashley Mayne produce a wide array of delicious greens for the Hudson Valley.
With his new book, Forrest Pritchard tells the stories of 18 farms from all across America.
Forrest Pritchard and Smith Meadows are prime examples of sustainable family farming.
Jonathan Waxman shares his food philosophy with Slow Films.
A group of star chefs play with fire for a good cause.