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14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat

Around 52% of America's fresh produce goes uneaten.

If you’re anything like me, your folks were militant about not wasting food when you were a kid.

If so, there's also a high chance you spent at least one entire evening sitting at the dining table alone because you refused to finish your mom’s tuna casserole. And while it seemed wildly unfair at the time, your parents were actually onto something, because food waste was — and still is — an enormous global issue, especially in the United States.
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If so, there's also a high chance you spent at least one entire evening sitting at the dining table alone because you refused to finish your mom’s tuna casserole. And while it seemed wildly unfair at the time, your parents were actually onto something, because food waste was — and still is — an enormous global issue, especially in the United States.

If you're not convinced, here are some facts that will probably leave you feeling determined to change your most wasteful habits for good:

1. Every year we throw away 40% of our food supply — a fact that's pretty outrageous considering one in six Americans doesn't have access to enough food.

Food also requires a lot of resources — land, water, animal feed, fuel, and carbon emissions created from travel — to get to our plates, so when we waste food, we waste resources too.
Andreypopov / Getty Images

Food also requires a lot of resources — land, water, animal feed, fuel, and carbon emissions created from travel — to get to our plates, so when we waste food, we waste resources too.

2. The average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year.

That’s enough dough for a luxury solo trip to Bali, or a few months of full-time child care in most major cities.
Undefined Undefined / Getty Images

That’s enough dough for a luxury solo trip to Bali, or a few months of full-time child care in most major cities.

3. And that means collectively, Americans toss around $165 billion of food annually.

To put things in perspective, that’s 28 times the Environmental Protection Agency's annual budget.
Tan Kian Khoon / Getty Images

To put things in perspective, that’s 28 times the Environmental Protection Agency's annual budget.

4. Forty two million people are "food insecure" in the United States, including 13 million children and 5.4 million seniors.

Being food insecure means you currently live without access to a sufficient amount of nutritious food.
Helovi / Getty Images

Being food insecure means you currently live without access to a sufficient amount of nutritious food.

5. America’s food waste could provide an estimated 2,000-calorie diet to 274 million people.

That's about 84% of the population.
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That's about 84% of the population.

6. Food waste is the single-biggest occupant of American landfills.

It's also responsible for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
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It's also responsible for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

7. And the amount we waste grows more and more every year.

Since 1960, our annual food waste has grown by 204%.
Orbon Alija / Getty Images

Since 1960, our annual food waste has grown by 204%.

8. It takes 53 gallons of water to produce a single egg, which is enough to fill a large bathtub.

Next time you throw away an egg, remember that water.
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Next time you throw away an egg, remember that water.

9. Nuts also require a surprising amount of water per pound: 1,929 gallons for almonds and 1,704 gallons for cashews.

Krishh / Getty Images

10. As does chocolate, which requires an average of 2,061 gallons per pound.

If you’re that rare specimen who has chocolate you’re looking to offload, HMU before you toss it in the trash!
S847 / Getty Images

If you’re that rare specimen who has chocolate you’re looking to offload, HMU before you toss it in the trash!

11. Wasting two ½-pound burgers is like wasting 1,847 gallons of water.

And wasting a pound of beef is like wasting 12 pounds of grain, which is enough to bake 36 loaves of bread.
Izusek / Getty Images

And wasting a pound of beef is like wasting 12 pounds of grain, which is enough to bake 36 loaves of bread.

12. Around 52% of America's fresh produce goes uneaten.

We throw away enough dietary fiber for 74 million women and 48 million men each year, even though it’s estimated that the average American has a fiber deficiency.
Nndanko / Getty Images

We throw away enough dietary fiber for 74 million women and 48 million men each year, even though it’s estimated that the average American has a fiber deficiency.

13. Processed foods require more water and energy than their raw counterparts.

For example, potato chips have more than three times the water footprint of potatoes, ketchup requires twice as much water as tomatoes, and a single glass of orange juice requires 45 gallons of water versus the 13 gallons necessary to grow an orange.
Angyee054 / Getty Images

For example, potato chips have more than three times the water footprint of potatoes, ketchup requires twice as much water as tomatoes, and a single glass of orange juice requires 45 gallons of water versus the 13 gallons necessary to grow an orange.

14. And 90% of Americans needlessly toss food too soon due to a basic misunderstanding of sell-by and use-by dates.

Eggs, for example, are good for up to five weeks past the marked use-by date. You can find out more about how long your food actually lasts here.
Jarabee123 / Getty Images

Eggs, for example, are good for up to five weeks past the marked use-by date. You can find out more about how long your food actually lasts here.

PS. Do you care about your community, the environment, and the general state of the world? Well, don't forget to sign up to vote in the 2018 midterm elections!

Learn more about your state's important election dates here!

Need help registering and getting ready to VOTE? Sign up at TurboVote and get access to a 50% off Lyft promo code for your ride to the polls here!

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Ashlee Piper is a journalist, TV personality, and author of the new sustainable living book, Give A Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.

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