Rushville Republican

May 1, 2013

Food wasted: $25 a month in the trash can


Leigh DeNoon

RUSHVILLE — INDIANAPOLIS - Imagine tossing 25 bucks into the trash can every month . . . It happens in Indiana, and across the country, as Americans throw out about 20 pounds of food every 30 days, on average. It goes bad, or there are too many leftovers.

According to Jon Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment, there are strategies to reduce waste, such as paying closer attention to sell-by dates. Menu planning aligned with portions can help, too, along with a change in shopping habits.

“Try to shop a bit more frequently and maybe less volume,” he suggested. “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.”

He said the average family discards between $300 and $500 worth of food per year, with the biggest losses in meat and seafood.

Wasting food isn’t just a household pocketbook issue: Foley said there’s an international component to consider. Food production takes resources - most notably, water. And hunger is a life-and-death issue - for some in America, and more commonly in other countries.

“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,” he pointed out. “And here’s 40 percent of the world’s food, that is sitting around rotting.”

Foley did say that not all waste is the consumer’s fault, however. Food is also lost in production and shipping, as well as in restaurants and markets.

More food waste information is at bit.ly/uVUJCB and at bit.ly/l70w4R.