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Nearly half

(article, Culinate staff)

Thanks to dogged writers such as Jonathan Bloom, the fact that eaters throw away much of their food is not, sadly, news. But now comes a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council pegging our food waste at a whopping 40 percent, or more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. And that's not all:

bq. 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. . . . Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

The NRDC has suggestions for preventing all this waste; as Grant Butler wrote in the Oregonian, those suggestions run the gamut from the feds to the individual:

bq. To counter this food waste, the council recommends that the federal government study losses in national food systems and establish national goals for food waste reduction, and standardize and clarify the meaning of date labels on food. That would help consumers stop throwing out items due to misinterpretation. Meanwhile, it recommends that state and local governments lead waste-prevention campaigns. Food-related businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, should examine their losses and take steps to reduce them. And consumers should reduce waste by learning when food goes bad, buying imperfect produce, and storing and cooking food with an eye to reducing waste.