by Megan Myrdal, RD – Extension Agent, Burleigh County Extension Service
Did you know that 40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten? 40%! That’s almost half of all food in this country! Does that make you a little sick to your stomach? Now, add this to the mix: In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children. That is 1 in 6 Americans. How can this be? We live in the land of plenty, going without want and no question of need. However, these startling numbers are true.
I can say that until recently, I didn’t give much thought to food waste, letting leftovers at restaurants get trashed and frequently tossing produce I had “good intentions” of eating, but it turned a little too soft/overripe and was not the “picture perfect” produce I’d originally purchased. However, I quickly realized food waste has big implications, not only to my wallet but also to the environment. Throwing 40% of our food each year translates into $165 billion in waste. In addition to the financial loss, uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.