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Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

This study, released by NRDC last month, contained statistics that may cause indigestion in some readers. “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,” the study says, “40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.” Not only are Americans throwing out $165 billion worth of food annually; food waste is the single largest component of municipal solid waste, according to the study. As it rots in landfills it accounts for nearly 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions. The report analyzes the U.S. food system, identifies the points in the food system where the waste is occurring, and highlights opportunities for government, business and consumers to reduce food waste. Food waste is a business opportunity, the report acknowledges: “The more food consumers waste, the more those in the food industry are able to sell.” But reducing food waste is also an opportunity. The study cites the case of U.S. grocery chain Stop and Shop, which found $100 million in annual savings following a thorough analysis of freshness, shrink, and customer purchases in all of their perishables departments. 

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