How Much Food does the Average American Waste?

Americans throw away about a third of all edible food that they buy per year. That's almost 30 billion pounds (13 billion kg) of food a year, 11 billion (4 billion kg) of which are fruits and vegetables. On a day-by-day basis, that's about 1 pound (0.45 kg) of food per person per day. In financial terms, that's a waste of around $400 US Dollars (USD) per person per year.

More facts about American eating habits:

  • Seventeen percent of the trash that Americans send to landfills is food waste.

  • Food banks report that 20 percent more people have come to them asking for food in recent years — but donations have gone down 9 percent. One study estimated that a mere 4 billion pounds (1.8 billion kg) of food would be enough to feed the hungry in America — that's less than one-fourth of what gets thrown out. About 40 million people in America do not have a regular source of food.

  • Processing American food waste takes more than 350 million barrels of oil every year.

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Discussion Comments


@Viranty - That's an excellent point. Can you imagine how beneficial it would be? However, the reason why it's not done is because if anything were to happen to the homeless (such as getting sick from food poisoning), the donors would be liable. However, I'm sure there are ways around that, and it doesn't seem like a legit reason to discard all the unused supermarket food.


Speaking of Americans wasting food, this leads me to the question - why is it that food at a supermarket can't be used to feed the homeless? Obviously, not everything is bought from a grocery store, and will expire sooner or later.


The article doesn't go into depth about this, but I feel one reason why Americans waste so much food is due to their freedom, and habit of taking everything for granted. In fact, that can apply to just about anyone. When someone constantly has food at their disposal, it's easier to be pickier about what they eat. For example, my friend has a little sister who doesn't like to eat vegetables. Sure they may not taste the best, but it's better to enjoy what you have, instead of discarding it aimlessly. Be the change, and not the problem.

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