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Why Does the US Waste so Much Food?

A question came in asking why some countries waste so much more food than other countries. The answer isn’t complex and it explains the food wastage in the US.

Put simply, food is at a higher premium in poorer countries than it is in wealthier ones. For example, the average person in El Salvador will eat things that the average American wouldn’t even consider eating. But then, the average diet in El Salvador consists of a half-cup of cooked rice, twice per day (three times per day for people who are more fortunate.) The rice is usually cooked without seasonings and without meat or vegetables added.

The poorest people in the US are wealthier than the average citizen of El Salvador. Americans also have access to a great deal of food that is high-quality. Since starvation isn’t a continual threat in the US like it is in El Salvador, people here are generally less thankful for the food we have and the food wastage is substantially higher.

According to the USDA, about 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States yearly. Since the population of the US is only about 375 million, this means that around 355 pounds of food are wasted in the US by every man, woman, and child, on average.

As great as that number is, the US is only 6th of the top 10 countries when it comes to food waste. In that list of top 10 wasteful countries, Norway is 10th, followed by Canada, Denmark, and Australia. As mentioned the US is 6th. In 5th place is Finland. Singapore is 4th, Malaysia is 3rd, Germany is 2nd, and the country with the largest amount of food waste in the world is the UK. About 40% of the food that is available in the UK is imported, and yet the average yearly food waste in the Uk is 6.7 million tons. That is 13,400,000,000 pounds of food wasted per year.

It should be noted that all of the countries on this list are making efforts to curb food waste.

Except for Malaysia and Singapore, all of the rest would be considered wealthier nations where starvation isn’t an everyday concern. That seems to be the common denominator. 

  • Did you know that people waste this much food yearly?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I didn’t know the numbers, but I try hard not to waste food
    • I’ve seen people throwing away perfectly good food

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Written by Rex Trulove

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