Clean Your Plate

“Finish your food. There are starving children in [insert country here], you know.”

Did your mom ever use that line when you were growing up and the last thing you wanted to do was finish those lima beans on your dinner plate? Turns out she wasn’t so far off-base on that persuasive argument.

According to a recent study, almost 30-50% of the world’s produced food is never eaten. The study found out some pretty startling facts about the amount of food that goes wasted.

  • The average American throws away 33 pounds of food a month.
  • The average American throws away 400 pounds of food a year.
  • 23% of eggs end up in the trash.
  • An even higher percentage of produce ends up in the trash.

That’s a lot of food hanging out in landfills.

It’s not just about all that food going to waste, though. That much food ending up in landfills also hurts the environment. It takes a lot of water, energy, and chemicals to produce food through agriculture, and a lot of greenhouse gasses occur during the process as well. Wasting produce just forces more to be created needlessly, impacting the entire world.

But to make matters worse, it’s not just the consumers that are wasting produce. In developing nations, often the produce spoils before it reaches market because of poor road conditions. But in richer countries, produce can actually be thrown away just because it’s not “pretty” enough to sell.

That poor, self-conscious produce! It just wants to go to a good home and can’t because it’s not as “pretty” as the next carrot in the bunch!

Companies are working to help the issue. Everything from making toppings stick to frozen pizza better to clarifying “sell by” and “use by” dates. Some food can also be “rescued” for use in soup kitchens or, if not acceptable for that use, as animal feed.

But solving the problem is something that requires effort from everyone. Every person needs to do their part to help reduce the food waste.

  • Don’t buy more than you need. If you don’t think you’ll eat that whole bunch of bananas before it spoils, then buy a smaller amount.
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables, as these take longer to spoil and go to waste.
  • If you like to garden, create a compost heap for your leftover food. That way it stays out of the landfills.
  • Freeze what you don’t immediately need—meats and other produce can keep for a while in the freezer and then you don’t have to throw it away.
  • Plan on smaller portions when you eat meals, so you can make your mom proud and actually finish what’s on your plate!
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One Comment

  1. Heather Murray

    March 29, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I really need to start a compost pile. I’ve been wanting to for ages!

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