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How Much Food Does Your Family Waste?

Study Says Nation Wastes Nearly Half Its Food

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A study from the University of Arizona in Tucson indicates that 40 to 50 percent of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten. Of the food that actually makes it into homes, a surprising percentage of it goes into the garbage, sometimes unopened.

Timothy W. Jones, an anthropologist at the UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, has spent the last 10 years measuring food loss. His research found:
  • An average family of four currently tosses out an estimated $590 per year, just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products.

  • U.S. households waste 14 percent of their food purchases.

  • 15 percent of that waste includes products still within their expiration date but never opened.

Ways to Avoid Waste

Dr. Jones says there are three simple ways most people can significantly reduce their own food waste.
  • Careful purchase planning: devise menus and make up grocery lists accordingly.

  • Know what lurks in the refrigerator and pantry that needs to be used while it is still useable.

  • An understanding that many kinds of food can be refrigerated or frozen and eaten later.

Nationwide, Dr. Jones said household food waste alone adds up to $43 billion a year, making it a serious economic problem.

More: Saving on the Family Food Budget

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