Food Waste: By the Numbers

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We shop for fruits and vegetables with the best intentions, but then bury them in the crisper and forget about them. We bring home a doggy bag, toss it in the fridge and overlook it. We make a yummy dinner and then let the leftovers go bad, eventually unearthing them only to toss them in the trash.

One neglected bunch of broccoli or container of takeout may not seem like much, but wasted food is actually a bigger issue in America than we may realize. The next time your family complains about being served leftovers, here are a few facts and figures about food waste to toss their way, culled from an eye-opening story on the Washington Post's Wonkblog about how Americans throw away more food than plastic, paper, metal or glass:

  • 35 million: Tons of food Americans threw out in 2012, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates
  • 12.2 million: Tons of food Americans threw away in 1960
  • 52: Percent of wasted food in U.S. is made up of vegetables
  • 50: Percent of wasted food in the U.S. accounted for by seafood
  • About one-third: Amount of the food produced around the world that doesn't get eaten
  • 1 in 9: People around the world who suffer from chronic hunger
  • 14: Percent of U.S. households that had difficulty putting food on the table in 2013, according to the USDA

Yikes. Here are some tips on reducing food waste and leftovers, and here's some info on knowing what to toss — and when.

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