Have you ever thrown out food because it said it was past its “sell by” date? What about your leftovers at a fancy restaurant?
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2008, 43 billion pounds of food were thrown out by retail locations (grocery stores) and 86 billion pounds were disposed of by households and food service
operations (restaurants, cafeterias, fast food, and caterers).
That’s nearly 130 billion pounds of food.
But what does that really translate to? Comedian Jeff Seal took to the streets of New York City — a place where the cost of living is the fifth highest in the world and the homelessness problem is undeniable — to find out.
While the USDA says that food loss is actually economically efficient in some instances, they also note that there’s only so much we can do to recover the loss, given:
“(1) technical factors (e.g., the perishable nature of most foods, food safety, storage, and temperature considerations); (2) temporal and spatial factors (e.g., the time needed to deliver food to a new destination, and the dispersion of food loss among millions of households, food processing plants, and foodservice locations); (3) individual consumers’ tastes, preferences, and food habits (e.g., throwing out milk left over in a bowl of cereal); and (4) economic factors (e.g., costs to recover and redirect uneaten food to another use).”
France made it illegal for grocery stores to throw away edible food, but unfortunately, few other countries are following suit. Maybe America should seriously consider it!