Would you care if the cost of food went up 30 percent? Well, you're paying that premium right now if you fall within the Department of Agriculture's average of wasting over a quarter of your food.
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Wasted food is the second-largest component of municipal solid waste in the U.S. In 2010, over 34 million tons of food waste was produced, accounting for almost 14 percent of the total waste stream. Only a fraction of this waste was recovered through composting programs, leaving 33 million tons to go into landfills where the decomposing food produces methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as damaging as carbon dioxide.
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Timothy Jones, an anthropologist at the UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology,estimates an average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year, just in meat, fruit, vegetables and grain products. Journalist Jonathan Bloom, tracked residential food waste for three decades, and estimates that as much as 25 percent of the food we bring into our homes is wasted. So a family of four that spends $175 a week on groceries squanders more than $40 worth of food each week and $2,275 a year.
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Although food is wasted at the farm, in transit and on store shelves, a study in Tompkins County, N.Y., showed that 40 percent of food waste occurs in the home. Our personal efforts, therefore, play an important part in closing the gap on food waste and all its associated costs.
Here are some simple strategies individuals and families can adopt to help reduce food waste: