The amount of perfectly good food that Americans throw away every year is enough to feed dozens of smaller countries, and the federal government says it's time to cut the waste dramatically. We throw away around a third of our food, and the USDA and EPA have partnered with private sector groups to announce the first-ever target for reducing food waste, which amounts to around 133 billion pounds a year in the US, NPR reports. The agencies want to cut waste by 50% by 2030, largely by scaling up existing initiatives to educate consumers on avoiding waste and to divert more food to hungry Americans.
The US "enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a press release. "An average family of four leaves more than two million calories, worth nearly $1,500, uneaten each year." EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy adds: "Let's feed people, not landfills," warning that the staggering amounts of food that end up in landfills are a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. The USDA says part of the plan will involve teaching consumers that food is often still good to eat after the "sell by" date and the "use by" date on packaging, reports USA Today. (Advocates want a national standard for the "haphazard" and "almost completely arbitrary" system of expiration dates.)