It starts with you.
An estimated 30-40 percent of the United States’ food supply is wasted. In 2010, about 31 percent of food loss occurred at the retail or customer levels, which corresponds to 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. Meanwhile, 40 million Americans are living in food-insecure households, or households that lack consistent access to enough food to live a healthy life. This includes 6.5 million households with children and 9.7 million with very low food security.
Growing, processing, and transporting food that is never eaten costs Americans $218 billion per year, or about 1.3 percent of GDP. That adds up to 52 million additional tons of food in landfills, and these mountains of food waste are problematic for the entire planet. Food waste collectively consumes 21 percent of all freshwater, 19 percent of all fertilizer, 18 percent of cropland, and 21 percent of landfill volume. In effect, resources that people have been fighting to preserve for decades are being lost due to the wastefulness of the average household.
The following chart was created using data from the 2011 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Global Food Losses and Food Waste report. It tracks the percent food loss by weight for each commodity group in each step of the food supply chain for North America and Oceania. The percentages in each step represent the percent of food remaining from the total weight of produced food.
The “Consumption” section represents the percent of food that is used in households and businesses. This stage of the food supply chain accounts for much of the overall food waste, and it is the step that everyday consumers have the most control over. This is why combatting food waste starts with you — the consumer. Each year, an estimated 218.9 pounds of food is wasted per person. Making small lifestyle changes can decrease these numbers as well as feed hungry Americans and keep the planet clean.
Looking to learn more? Click here to visit the website I built where I explain how we can start combating food waste and helping our planet.