Why food waste is a problem
Food waste has become a big problem in America, and food waste is an even bigger problem around the world. But food waste isn't just a food issue; there are many social, environmental, and economic implications that come with food waste. So how can we reduce food waste? Here are some tips to help you minimize your food wastage at home!
It's also important to understand why food waste is a bad thing, and how food waste can impact you. Here are some food waste statistics that show just how harmful food waste really is! Some Stats About Food Waste:
- 40% of the food produced in America goes uneaten each year (USDA)
- $218 billion worth of food is thrown away in America each year (EPA)
- That's enough food to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium 40 times over.
- The average American family of four throws out around $1500 worth of food every year - almost 20% percent of their grocery bill!
What is food waste and why does it happen?
There are a lot of reasons why food waste happens. Some food gets tossed because there's too much food (over-produced) and not enough people to purchase & eat it all at that instant. Other food goes bad or expires before we can eat it, and some food is over-processed at the factory.
The main reason food waste happens though? People buy more food than they need, either at the grocery store or from restaurants where food is not consumed at the rate that it is produced! Another reason that causes a lot of food waste is when grocery stores have too much food in stock they will typically discard of unsold or misfit items in order to accommodate 'fresher' food. In both cases, waste is inevitable BUT we can always take steps to reduce the overall amount of wasted food.
So how can we help reduce food waste? With the food we buy, make sure to use it all before it is no longer edible. If you go grocery shopping, only bring a list of what's needed and don't purchase food that may go unused. When ordering from restaurants, always take home your leftovers and eat them, if it's something you didn't enjoy see if a family member at home might like it. When possible shop local and at farmers markets to help reduce the waste of locally grown & made food products, you'll also be stimulating your local economy. If you see items that are marked down because of being near or past the best by date, overstock, or misfit food with imperfections, buy these items instead. In most cases these items are perfectly edible to eat and not only will you be reducing food waste, you'll also be saving some money in the process!
How much food is wasted in America?
In America, around 40% of food produced ends up being wasted. That means 8 pounds of food per person every month that is thrown out! In total, over $218 billion worth of food ends up being thrown away each year in America. If you took all of that wasted food and laid it out, it would fill the Rose Bowl stadium 40 times over. The average American family throws out around $1500 worth of wasted food every year - almost 20% percent of their grocery bill!
Food waste isn't just a problem in America though; around one-third of the total amount produced is lost or wasted globally! That's about three billion tons worth every year. Much like with our personal habits, reducing this waste can have a major impact on the environment and our economy. Around one-third of the total amount produced is lost or wasted globally! That's about three billion tons worth every year. Much like with our personal habits, reducing this waste can have a major impact on the environment and our economy.
If we reduce our waste by only 15%, we could feed 25 million Americans every day for an entire year! That's a huge impact on not only our economy, but also on those in need. A whopping 50% of all food produced worldwide is never consumed, the implications of reducing this waste could essentially end world hunger and have multiple benefits on our economies, resources, and environments.
1 in 7 American households face hunger - it's a sad fact that could easily be altered if more food was donated, less food was overproduced, and more food was not discarded of. This country wastes more than $137 billion dollars each year on wasted food; this includes not just single meals but also entire pallets with perfectly edible items going to waste because of market manipulation by large corporations and over production of food.
How The Bargain Box Helps Reduce Food Waste & Provides A Great Way To Save Money
The Bargain Box is an enormous deal on virtually any shelf stable snack food & candy items that are overstock, seasonal, post-dated, or misfit. We connect with retailers and manufacturers to purchase shelf stable food items on a wholesale level and then offer a largely discounted option for consumers to purchase without breaking the bank. We understand the impact that food waste has on our environment and our economy, every bargain box contains a wide variety of items like snack bars, cookies, candy bars, gummy candies, sweet and sour, chocolate, protein bars, gum, nuts, seeds, dried meats, dried fruits, and so much more!
What is market manipulation in the food industry?
Market manipulation is the act of unfairly controlling the market by limiting or increasing the supply of a certain product or set of products. It can be done in many different ways, but they all aim to cause prices to change in the favor of the manipulator. An example of this by conservatively dating items with a "Best By" or "Sell By" Date that does not accurately describe the true date of which an item is edible by. Another example is the extremely high standards we have for what we see in stores, products with imperfections in size or appearance will usually be discarded of leading to an endless cycle of wasted product and resources to produce, manufacture, and transport food.
If less food was produced and manufactured it would also reduce the resources required to grow, transport, store, harvest, and create and end product. The reduction in these factors would make food cheaper which is what large corporations DO NOT want. Because the cost to grow and produce food would decrease from including more food for sale that is produced overall, the overall supply and availability would increase lowering the actual cost of the product.
Just imagine this scenario; when celery is grown and harvested, almost 50% of the outer celery stock is removed and discarded before hitting the store shelf. Imagine how far your dollar would go if this portion of the celery stock was included? You would be getting 50% more product and reduce the amount of food being sent to landfills wreaking havoc on our economies and environment.
Why should we care about food waste?
First, it's important to realize that there are many things going on in our world and this includes the global issue of hunger. 1 out 3 people go hungry every day while malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million under-five child deaths annually because they do not get enough nutritious food at home; 462 million people are underweight per year due to worldwide food insecurity and malnutrition.
Every year, food waste emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as 3.3 million cars driving for a whole year. The amount of water wasted from unused food is enough to supply 50 million Americans with drinking water for an entire year, the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides used to produce food (which ultimately goes to waste) kills a plethora of wildlife, seeps into watersheds, contributes to runoff pollution, and ultimately harms our environment.
Easy ways to reduce food waste!
1. Plan your meal ahead of time and purchase only the food you require.
2. If there is a lot of leftover food or it's close to its expiration date, freeze it for a later use.
3. Share excess food with a friend or family member
4. Try cooking smaller portion sizes and create more recipes that can be used in smaller portions so that if they are not eaten the day they are prepared, there is other ways to add flavor and create new dishes with them the following day(s).
5, Buy clearance items and use them immediately
6. Donate excess food to shelters
7. Give your food waste a second purpose and start composting ( we have a great article on composting here)
8. Learn how to can and preserve food
9. Buy food that is imperfect
10. Save your leftovers
11. keep your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator clutter free
How food waste contributes to climate change
Food waste contributes to climate change by releasing methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is due to these greenhouse gases not being absorbed as efficiently when they are released into the air rather than stored in soil or biomass, such as plants and trees which can absorb them naturally. Methane also has a strong potential for creating smog; this occurs when it reacts with ozone which creates ground-level ozone pollution (also known as smog). When food decomposes anaerobically without oxygen, like in landfills, methane gas is produced. In fact about 20 percent of all human-related emissions come from landfill sites where large amounts of organic material end up rotting away producing methane! Methane has 28 times more heat-trapping power than carbon dioxide, meaning it’s among the most important greenhouse gases for accelerating global warming.
Growing all of this wasted food requires lots of energy-intensive fertilizers, tractors for tilling fields, transportation trucks to take produce from farm to store...the list goes on. All these activities release more greenhouse gases like CO₂ into our air which can trigger further complications and worsening climate change.
How food waste affects the economy
Food waste negatively affects the economy because it is costly to dispose of food that has spoiled and expensive to produce food in the first place. Food waste also wastes materials and resources used in harvesting, packaging, transporting, selling, storing, producing, cooking or serving these foods. For example, each year almost half a million tons of perfectly good fruit are left on trees due to oversupply issues with no place for them be sold at grocery stores. The USDA report found that 36.43 percent of all wasted food was fruits and vegetables which could have been eaten by Americans, this equates to about $161 billion dollars’ worth of food lost annually! That's a lot of money that could go back into the economy instead of throwing it in the garbage.
According to the NRDC, some statistics on how food waste negatively impacts the economy are that it is responsible for $218 billion dollars of economic losses annually. This includes $144 billion in growing and processing costs as well as $81 million in household expenditures. Another statistic shows that organic wastes make up 21% of landfills which accounts for over 400 methane emissions each year. Lastly, by reducing food loss and waste, global GDP could increase by approximately $100-300 trillion cumulatively over the next 15 years (NRDC). All these factors show why it’s so important to reduce food wastage!
If you found this article and statistics on food waste useful, please share it with others! This is a topic that affects each and every one of us. As individuals we can take steps to reduce our food waste by purchasing only what we will consume in the near future, storing foods properly so they won’t spoil or accidentally get thrown out, composting when possible instead of throwing away organic matter like leftover fruits and vegetables. We also need to pressure grocery stores not to throw out unsold produce but donate them for charity purposes. Join us in working towards reducing global hunger while minimizing environmental impact on the Earth's resources!