The scene is a familiar one: A lone child sits at the table, sullenly kicking the rungs of the chair that has become her prison. Her enemy — the pile of “stupid” and “gross” peas taunting her from the plate that she has been ordered to eat before she can leave the table, because wasting food is simply not something this family does. The Clean Plate Club doesn’t seem to be working these days either, as a new report says American are wasting or throwing away almost half our food each year.
It’s not really the fault of finicky children, either (vindication!), says Natural Resources Defense Council. Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores are a large part of the problem, as well as consumers and the restaurants who serve up increasingly ginormous portions. All of that waste results in an annual loss of around $165 billion every year, according to the NRDC’s study.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That’s money and precious resources down the drain,” a scientist with the NRDC’s food and agriculture program told Reuters.
We’re throwing out about 40% of the food supply ever year, with the average family of four dumping about $2,275 every year in food. If we could avoid waste by 15%, the NRDC says it would be enough to feed 25 million Americans per year, and slow the filling up of landfills.
The NRDC wants the U.S. government to study food losses in the food system and outline some goals to shoot for in order to get the waste down. Like hey, maybe don’t serve restaurant patrons a burger the size of a human head with a side of 2,948,523 french fries. Unfortunately, because we’re used to such large portions, many diners might feel as if they’re not getting their money’s worth when served anything less than a gargantuan pile of food.
In the meantime, maybe it’s time for a renewed invigoration in the Clean Plate Club, or perhaps a Don’t Put So Much Food On The Plate In The First Place Club.