Who's wasting all the food? Is it you?

There’s a billboard in town, similar to this one, claiming that the average American wastes 290 pounds of food per year. From what I’ve read elsewhere, this is post-consumer waste, i.e. it’s what individuals are discarding after they get their groceries home; waste/loss further upstream in the food supply chain is a separate issue.

That’s over 3/4 pound of food per day, per person. :eek: WTF, that’s a lot of food. I’m sure my wife and I don’t waste that much. I think in a normal week, we might toss one overripe banana (damn, those things ripen fast), and every day we toss the peel from one apple. On rare occasions we have a yellow onion in the drawer that is discovered to be rotten, or some green onions in the fridge that have gone slimy. I’d claim that our household averages maybe a pound a week, instead of the eleven pounds purportedly discarded by the average two-person household.

So who’s wasting all the food? Is it you?

Does that figure include restaurant patrons? I am often aghast at how much food people leave behind on their plates. I bet it’s even worse at buffets.

Our food waste is usually science experiments that have gotten lost in the back of the fridge.

It’s my cat. She’s addicted to the Temptations treats and only wants to eat those. Every day she wastes most of a can of Fancy Feast and a handful of quality dry food.

We waste very little and I write it off to my youth when leftovers had to be composted or run two fields off where any raccoons or critters attracted wouldn’t be an issue. The exception is rinds (we like to keep some cut-up melon and stuff around) and the less tasty sections of vegetables. We are a little more “wasteful” with things like old clothing and the like but most of the recyclables get recycled to that isn’t so much of a waste.

I don’t waste food if I cook something for me and the kids and they don’t finish theirs, I eat whatever is left over.

I am wondering what they consider “waste” aside from food just thrown out. I don’t think trimmings from fruits and veggies should be considered waste.

It’s not me because my problem is portion control.

I never want to waste food, and consequently I eat too much. I’ve been struggling to intentionally not eat everything on my plate.

I’m not sure I understand “waste” in this context. If I buy 50 english muffins and throw 40 away, I haven’t deprived anyone of an english muffin. In fact, I’ve encouraged everyone from the farm to the supermarket to keep bringing muffins to market. Would it truly be better for anyone if I only bought the 10 I was going to eat?

From the link:

I get that there’s a problem, and I’ll grant it’s a serious one. But what does my conduct of tossing out uneaten and rotten food have to do with it?

My kids. My daughter start her dinner but not be able to finish it. She would get up and throw all the leftovers out. Now, I make her save it for lunch the next day (because she’s home over the summer). My son throws it on the floor. At that point, it’s going in the garbage. But he’s only 2, so this method of food wasting should be short lived.

Yeah, it seems similar to the “feed Africa” programs where often the issue isn’t a physical lack of food but rather governmental or socio-economic issues preventing people from getting at it. We don’t have warlords diverting sacks of grain here but someone who can’t afford a loaf of bread can’t afford it regardless of whether I buy one and eat it or buy two and let one go moldy. Either way, there’s still plenty of bread in the store.

We do not waste much. All kitchen scraps are fed to our chickens. Yesterday I chopped up a watermelon. I gave the rind to the hens and in a few hours that ate everything except the skin. They’ll pick every last speck of mango from the pit, leaving something most people do not recognize.

Corporate meals are probably another big one. It’s a situation where you want to have enough of each dish that people can take multiple portions if they want to, but you’re going to end up with leftovers. Unless people take those away, it’s trash.

The amount of food thrown out in our school cafes is appalling. Maintenance has to empty the BIG garbage barrels after every shift. They’re just groaning under the wight of discarded food to the point where they are difficult for them to lift up into the trolleys they use to cart them out to the dumpsters.

Unnecessary food production means unnecessary fuel use, water use, land use, and if it’s chucked out mixed with general household waste, increased landfill use as well… All limited resources, and all with added consequences like pollution from fertilizers used to increase production. Some of this is going to be local impact, some will be affecting overseas communities as well- for example in Chile, water is reportedly being monopolised for watering avocado crops for export. You can argue that enabling people to make money by providing export goods is worth the damage in the long term, but if they were getting paid to produce the 10 people actually want, rather than the same money for the 10 people want plus the 40 that get thrown away, 10 can be produced with less environmental damage than 50; no-one would be doing worse, and some would be doing better.

Encouraging everyone from farmers to supermarkets to keep producing as much as they can is not a simple good thing.

We don’t waste much, since we set menus at the beginning of the week and buy only stuff we know we are going to eat. Once in a while something rots faster than expected or something gets lost, but we also compost a lot.

I’m also curious about how much of this is due to food service. Anyone who has dealt with hotel or conference center catering knows that they put out maybe 10% more portions than needed, just in case. I suspect restaurants order for surges in a dish, since product is relatively cheaper than the finished meal and they don’t want to say they are out of things. I know that there are charities that collect restaurant leftovers, but I bet that they can get a small portion of them.

I used to work near a bakery, which ran a thrift store for day old bread. Their shelves were always well stocked, and I doubt they sold much of the left overs. I hope they donated anything they couldn’t sell anymore to charity, but they didn’t say so in the store.

That makes sense. Thank you. Yes, fixing those issues has benefits, but it won’t feed the hungry (which is what the people behind the billboard in the OP seem to be concerned about).

My 26 year old stepson. Last night, he put some broccoli on his plate for a while, then scraped it into the trash. What, you don’t know how to figure out what you’ll eat by now?

I’m not always crazy about having chickens, but one of their big plusses in my mind is that they’ll eat darn near anything. They get any leftovers we may have and then I don’t feel guilty.

I’m not. Restaurant portions are often way too big for a normal serving. I am not going to eat everything they put in front of me to satisfy some outdated “clean your plate” mentality.

Lemme guess - they’re giving the kids things that they not going to eat, no matter how hungry they are? That doesn’t benefit anybody.

It will reduce demand, hopefully making some food available for purchase at lower prices. It may also mean that food is available for food banks at steps where it can be used, such as factories which give food to the bank several days before best-by date, instead of individuals throwing food into the waste bin.