Americans trash 40 percent—or $165 billion—of uneaten food each year, according to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
According to the report, providing food to families in the U.S. costs 10 percent of the country’s energy budget and uses 50 percent of the land and 80 percent of the fresh water, while an average family of four throws out around $2,275 annually in food.
If the U.S. reduced food waste by 15 percent, it could feed more than 25 million Americans each year, according to the NRDC.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path—that’s money and precious resources down the drain,” Dana Gunders, NRDC project scientist with the food and agriculture program, said in a statement. “We can do better.”
The report analyzes various causes of these losses, including grocery stores and retail food sellers that typically lose about $15 billion annually in unsold fresh produce, as well as Americans' portion sizes, which are typically two to eight times more than the standard serving size, and uneaten leftovers.
Compared to other nations, the report says the average American wastes 10 times more food than a consumer in Southeast Asia—a 50 percent bump from Americans in the 1970s.
To help reduce waste, the NRDC suggests learning when food expires, purchasing fresh produce that may not look perfect but is completely edible, cooking smaller food portions and eating leftovers.
How much food do you waste? Tell us in the comments.