How Much Food Do We Waste in the US?

During the holiday season we enjoy eating, we enjoy eating with family and friends. But many of us in the U.S. do not realize how much food is wasted, not just during holidays, but every day of the year. For years, the U.S. has been labeled the “throw-away society” because of the tons of food we toss into the trash. A recent study from the University of Alabama shows just how wasteful the nation is with its bounty: a shocking 40 to 50 percent of all food ready for harvest never consumed.

Interestingly, the study found that not only is edible food discarded that could feed people who need it, but the rate of loss, even partially corrected, could save US consumers and corporations tens of billions of dollars each year. On average, households waste about fourteen percent of their food purchases. Fifteen percent of the food purchases includes products still within their expiration date but never opened. It is estimated that an average family of four currently tosses out $590 a year in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products.

The study suggests three simple ways to significantly reduce the food waste: (1) careful purchase planning (devise menus and make up grocery lists accordingly) (2) knowing what lurks in the refrigerator and pantry that needs to be used while it is still useable and (3) understanding that many kinds of food can be refrigerated or frozen and eaten later.