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Food waste

Daily amount of food waste in America enough to fill a football stadium

Monday, October 17, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: food waste, America, health news

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(NaturalNews) Many Americans today give very little thought to the amount of food they throw away, naively assuming that there will always be "more where that came from." And such disregard for the precious nature of food has become so prevalent that roughly a football field's-worth of food waste is produced every single day in the US, according to estimates.

Jonathan Bloom, creator of WastedFood.com and author of the 2010 book American Wasteland, says that Americans waste as much as half of the food produced every year. Somewhere between 160 and 295 billion pounds of food is thrown away every single year, which is the equivalent of filling a 90,000 seat football stadium to the brim at least once every single day.

Since 1974, per capita food waste has jumped an astounding 50 percent, with the average American now producing roughly five pounds of trash every day. About 12 percent of this waste is food-based waste, which translates into at least half a pound per day, per American, a truly disturbing figure.

And just what is the cause of this massive increase? Bloom suggests that a generational transition from those who lived through wars, the Great Depression, and other tough times, to those who have lived in relatively easier times, as one explanation. But another has to do with Americans gradual separation from the food they grow, and how this separation affects perceptions about food.

In the US, urban migration saw a significant surge primarily in the 19th century. In 1790, 95 percent of Americans lived in rural areas. But by 1920, that figure dropped to less than 50 percent -- and by 2008, more than 82 percent of Americans had become urban dwellers, with a continued urban migration still occurring to this day.

Why is this significant? In the old days, many people had their own family farms, and they understood the very real volatility involved with farming -- and, thus, quite a bit more about the real value of food. Today, however, most people have no idea where their food comes from, and since many of the staple crops used in food production are government subsidized, much of the food sold in stores is artificially inexpensive, which means people have less qualms about wasting it.

But as the US economy continues its downward spiral, Americans will have to re-learn the value of food, which includes learning how to better manage it and waste less of it. The question is, how bad will things have to get before Americans really wise up and learn how to be more practical and frugal?

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