by: J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Want to find a way to cut your grocery bill as a way to combat food inflation? Stop wasting so much. Americans toss out as much as 40 percent of their food – nearly every other bite, the Los Angeles Times reports – says the National Resources Defense Council, a staggering mound worth about $165 billion a year.
"Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten," said the study, adding that rotting food in municipal waste dumps accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.
'Too good to waste'
The NRDC went onto say that food waste is the single largest portion of solid waste that is piling up in American landfills. And in a sign of growing prosperity perhaps, the amount of uneaten food stinking up dumps has increased 50 percent since the 1970s. The group said the average American throws away 10 times as much food as a consumer in Southeast Asia.
The study comes at a time when a record drought is having a negative effect on food prices that many analysts believe are only going to increase, and as more American families are unable to afford enough food, the report said. Recently, a report by the Food and Action Center said that last year, nearly one in five Americans said that they couldn't afford enough food. During the 12 months of 2011, 18.6 percent of families across the country said that at times there wasn't enough money to buy food, the group said. In Mississippi, the worst state, a quarter of all residents said they had a tough time buying enough food.
"Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us
no good if the food is never eaten," the NRDC report says.
In Europe there are efforts underway to curb food waste, but such efforts could be more difficult to impose in the U.S., where shoppers are accustomed to seeing mountains of fresh produce and fully stocked freezers and food shelves – not to mention a plethora of restaurants, most of which serve excessive helpings.
Lots of resources go into preparing wasted food
Such profligate habits are a sign of a wealthy nation, to be sure, but it's costly too: $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and veggies go to the dump annually, the NRDC says, and that doesn't count what's left on plates at home and in restaurants.
So much wasted food is also costly in terms of the environment. "Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States," says the report.
"Nutrition is also lost in the mix – food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates," it says.
The report calls on the Leviathan to set a target for food-waste reduction. Other groups, such as Food and Action Center, have urged lawmakers and, by default, federal agencies, to set standards and issue regulations (remember; however, that regulations tend to come with a compliance cost).
But the NRDC report also suggests Americans learn about when food goes bad and become more accustomed to buying scarred or imperfect produce. Also, it urges companies look for alternatives in their supply chain, such as making so-called "baby carrots" out of carrots that are too bent to be sold as whole in retail stores, the Times noted.