New Food Waste Reports

USA Today reported today that Americans trash $640 in food a year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that’s enough wasted food to feed an adult for a minimum of two months or a child for at least six months![1]

Estimates for the amount of food that is grown or produced and then thrown into landfills ranges from 30-40%. While most people agree that this is a shame, according to a survey also published today from the American Chemistry Council, only 15% of respondents actually realize the significant impact that this “trash” has on the global greenhouse gas effect. This figure is way too low…

Background Info

Food Waste

These articles all refer to the fact that, although Americans are concerned about the food waste problem in general, they are not too concerned about the environmental impact of food waste. That’s a problem. That’s a lot of food produced just to decay and emit gasses into the environment from our dumps! We feel that everyone should not only be concerned, but also try to do their part to help since food waste is reportedly taking the largest share of our increasingly limited landfill space. Specifically, methane gas production from decaying food is an environmentally dangerous gas. Throwing away food is the biggest contributor to methane gas production – whether during production, retail sale or as a consumer of food.

As part of this solution, we also love to see when imperfect foods are creatively re-purposed. Articles like this one, also posted today, where distilleries are using “trash” to produce some really cool products like fruited spirits really make us happy :). These distilleries are now buying produce that was previously just tossed by the growers because retailers won’t buy produce with imperfections. Imperfections can be cut out and overripe fruit is actually full of sweet juice – both types might be improper on a grocery shelf, but actually make the best smoothies and other drinks.

EatByDate readers are already helping by learning about how long foods really last past their best-by dates, how to store foods properly to make them last longer and how to repurpose foods. Let’s all keep spreading the word and keep doing our part to help!

Additional Info

These interesting articles about student dumpster diving in Denmark, part 1 and part 2, are proof that good food is consistently tossed into the dumpsters. But, please NOTE, we are not recommending eating foods from dumpsters… only in keeping good food from ever seeing the inside of a dumpster.

See this USDA article for more information on food waste.

What You Can Do

We’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating… A best-by date reflects the date for guaranteed product quality, not safety. Plan ahead carefully, shop wisely, store foods properly, eat leftovers, create something new from old foods (many of our pages include a section on what to do with too much of that product – for instance, make fried rice the day after you cooked too much rice) or donate what you can’t finish.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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