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Land of plenty, home of the waste

What of this food will go to waste?
What of this food will go to waste?
tychay/Flickr (cc by_nc_nd)

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Looked in the fridge lately? Are molds gathering on last week’s Fettuccine Alfredo or slime lurking on that heirloom lettuce?

A new report says 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away. The Natural Resources Defense Council report says edible waste amounts to $165 billion in waste annually and is stressing natural resources. The biggest offender is the home consumer. The study shows that American families throw out 25 percent of food and drinks they buy and cheap, abundant food is blamed for the caviler tossing of edibles.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery’s Food Scrap Management program reports: “Californians throw away nearly 6 million tons of food scraps each year. Rather than throwing away excess food, manage it through source reduction, feeding people, feeding animals, industrial uses, and composting for soil restoration.”

What can be done to curb food waste? How can consumers change habits to decrease waste? Will rising food prices solve the problem on its own?


Jonathan Kaplan, Senior Policy Specialist, National Resources Defense Council. He supervises Dana Gunders who authored the report.

Diana Rivera, waste management specialist for CalRecycle, a state agency that has authority over solid waste in California