The United States is fortunate to enjoy one of the richest and most plentiful food supplies across the globe. Each year, however, our abundant food supply contributes to an ever-growing pile of wasted food.
Food waste can be defined as the loss of an edible amount of post-harvested food that is safe and available for human consumption but is not consumed for any particular reason. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that Americans dispose of nearly 35 million tons of food waste each year- that is the equal to about 5 pounds of food waste, per person, each and every week!
Pressing issues regarding food waste:
- Food dumped into landfills eventually decomposes and produces large quantities of methane gas. These methane gas emissions are a major and devastating contributor to global climate change.
- Wasting part of the food supply also means wasting a portion of our natural resources. Food waste creates a serious deficit in resources such as water and land.
- Food waste also creates a huge financial burden. The USDA revealed that food waste costs the U.S. nearly $162 billion annually.
- Nearly 13% of households in the U.S. have trouble providing enough food for their families. The millions of tons of annually wasted food could be going to families in need of food assistance.
Many people wonder where exactly along the supply chain food waste occurs. In developed countries like the U.S., nearly one third of food is wasted in the hands of retailers and consumers. That means that as consumers, we can play a leading part in reducing annual food waste!
There are lots of ways that you can educate yourself and your clients to decrease personal food waste through planning, storage, and preparation. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s tips for reducing wasted food at home!
Ali Webster is a current dietetic intern in the Virginia Tech Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at The Ohio State University. In her free time, she loves exploring parks and neighborhoods around the DC Metro Area and trying to master new food recipes!