(PCM) Did you know that more than half of all the fresh produce produced in the United States each year is wasted? According to the latest reports, only 48 percent of produce grown is actually consumed…and fruits and vegetables aren’t the only foods going to waste.
In fact, we now throw away 50 percent more food than our grandparents did! According to a new report from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), forty percent of the food produced in the United States goes into landfills…40 PERCENT! That equates to a waste of 20 pounds per person per month.
Second to fruits and vegetables is fish, with Americans wasting fifty percent of it. Meat and milk do better in this country, with only about 20 percent wasted – can’t let a big beefy burger go to waste!
So, what’s going on? Why so much waste? According to the NRDC report, it’s a joint responsibility – from farmers to grocery stores to shoppers. Low commodity prices on some produce means it’s often cheaper for farmers to leave a field unharvested rather than pay for all the means of production. Grocery stores overstock shelves in an effort to get people to buy more. Restaurants serve huge portion sizes that cannot be finished in one sitting, and not everyone is bringing home leftovers; in fact, 55 percent of leftovers are left at the table.
And then, there’s you and I. Believe it or not, we are the ones wasting the most. According to Rodale, the average family of 4 wastes 25 percent of its purchased food. What does it cost us? Brace yourself: you’re flushing $1,365 to $2,275 every year on food thrown in the trash.
Aside from saving ourselves a couple thousand dollars, if we can reduce the food waste in this country by just 15 percent, we could feed half of the 50 million Americans who go hungry every year, the report concludes.
What can you do? To limit the waste in your household try these tips: Don’t buy more than you need at the grocery store (write a list of what you need and stick to it), always take home restaurant leftovers, organize your cabinets and fridge so you can see what needs to be used up, and remember the power of your freezer (you can literally freeze just about anything, from meat and produce to bread and dairy products)!