Why do Americans Trash so Much Food?

Discarding food from plateDespite their proverbial love for food, Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy, a recent report shows. About 53 percent of surveyed Americans admitted that they are routinely trashing food.What’s more, most of them aren’t planning to change their habit.

According to the findings reported this week in the scientific journal Plos One, about 42 percent of Americans agree that discarding food affects their budget. However, nearly 25 percent of respondents said that they are too hurried to worry about this aspect of their lives.

More than a half of study participants said that they trash food because they bought it on bulk or during sales. Just as many respondents said they cannot find a workaround to this problem all by themselves.

The report from the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that food waste in America is worth $165 billion every year since 40 percent of bought food goes to waste. Past studies had shown that 15 percent of trashed food would be enough for 25 million hungry Americans each year.

A United Nations report had shown that about 33 percent of food production worldwide is trashed with no reason every year. The NRDC also found that 160 billion pounds of uneaten food currently lies in the nations landfills.

Another study had found that the situation may be even worse. According to 2013 study, most Americans – about 90 percent – trash perfectly edible food because they fail to understand package expiration dates.

Study investigators found that consumers are confused when it comes to make a difference between fresh and bad food. Americans do not properly grasp notions such as “best before,” “sell by,” and “use by.”

NRDC researchers call for a complete makeover of the dated labeling system.

They explained that “sell by” doesn’t mean that the food should go to waste. It is just an indicator for shops to know every product’s shelf life. “Use by” and “Best before” don’t mean that the food is spoiled at the expiration date either.

Some journalists made a small experiment and ate expired food for a week and had not landed in a hospital afterwards. The journalists noted that with proper seasoning any “wilted collards, beet greens and leeks” can taste pretty good, despite their unappealing looks.

Supermarkets also throw away good food because it looks less than perfect. In some European countries, retailers are now banned from discarding food that is close to its expiration date.
Image Source: Flickr

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