CHARTS: Everyone Is Throwing Away Too Much Food

A new report says that our excessive food waste is “a tragedy that cannot continue.”


It’s no secret that Americans throw away an enormous amount of food, sending day-old leftovers and slightly wilted spinach straight to the garbage. But what about the food that never even makes it to the kitchen table? A new report released by a British engineering society reveals that worldwide, billions of tons of food are squandered each year because of poor agriculture practices, which include inefficient harvesting and inadequate infrastructure and storage—and it’s depleting Earth’s water supply.

“This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands,” writes the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “The potential to provide 60-100% more food by simply eliminating losses, while simultaneously freeing up land, energy and water resources for other uses, is an opportunity that should not be ignored.”

According to the report, developing countries, including India, China, and Vietnam, don’t have the infrastructure to stop food from rotting. But that doesn’t mean that Americans are off the hook: Developed societies tend to waste food on the consumer end of the chain, because it doesn’t meet cosmetic standards (i.e., the tomatoes aren’t pretty enough for your local supermarket) and also because consumers and supermarkets are throwing away perfectly good food, largely because of conservative “use-by” labels.

The charts below illustrate some of the stats from the report. Now, go home and revisit the Chinese food that’s been in the fridge for three days. It’s probably fine. (But of course, this isn’t medical advice, so don’t sue Mother Jones, please.)

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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