In your kitchen right now is food that is going to be wasted. Although it may still be sitting in your pantry or in your refrigerator, you’ll eventually throw it away. Milk and cheese will go bad before you finish it, bread will get stale and moldy, and the can of kale will go in the trash as soon as you remember you bought a can of kale (seriously, what were you thinking?).
That Americans waste a lot of food is no surprise. But what may shock you is just how much food we waste.
According to the USDA, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices. The estimated calories associated with food loss: 141 trillion in 2010, or 1,249 calories per capita per day. That’s a lot of calories that could be used for those in our nation who go hungry.
About 10 percent of the loss (43 billion pounds) occurs at the retail level (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.). Since a significant portion of that wasted food is edible, why isn’t it given to the poor and homeless?
As Harrison Jacobs explains, there are two main reasons usable food is wasted at the retail level. The first is liability: