Food Waste: By the Numbers

Photo by: Thinkstock ©Thinkstock

Thinkstock, Thinkstock

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.

Keep Reading

Next Up

8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste During the Holidays

Try these easy ways to maximize your ingredients (and minimize your grocery bill!) this holiday season.

Cool Ways Companies Are Reducing Food Waste

Unique solves to the ever-present problem.

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Cut down on food waste – and become a storage pro – with these simple tips and hacks from Food Network and

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste (and Save Money Too)

We throw out a staggering 40 percent of our food in America, which is not only taxing on the planet...but on our wallets too. These easy tips can help you save them both.