Statistics show that, on average, Hoosier families each toss about $25 worth of food into the trash can every month, but it’s not just Indiana; studies show that across the country, Americans throw out about 20 pounds of food every 30 days due to spoilage or an overabundance of leftovers. Jon Foley from the Institute on the Environment said there are strategies to reduce waste, such as paying closer attention to “sell-by” dates and planning menus alongside portion control. He said a change in shopping habits could also help.
“Try to shop a bit more frequently and maybe less volume,” Foley said. “For example, having a small market near your house for things that are more perishable, like milk and eggs, and meat, and that kind of thing.”
Foley said the average family tends to discard between $300 and $500 worth of food per year – the biggest losses of which tend to be meat and seafood. But wasting food isn’t just a financial problem; Foley said there’s an international aspect to consider as well, as food production takes resources, particularly water.
With hunger being a life-or-death issue for those in America and more commonly in other countries, Foley said a lot of money has gone into improving crop yields but not a lot of progress has been made.
“We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars trying to get crops to grow faster, to improve yields – and globally, crop production has only increased about 20 percent in the last 20 years, despite all those efforts. And here’s 40 percent of the world’s food that is sitting around rotting,” he said.
On the other hand, Foley said not all waste is the fault of the consumer; food is also lost in the production or shipping processes, as well as at restaurants and markets.