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Food waste in America: 430 billion pounds

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The numbers are staggering. The amount is sinful. The results are terrifying. According to a story being reported today, February 24, 2014, by the Washington Examiner, Americans are wasting $161 billion dollars worth of food, which equates to approximately 430 billion pounds.

When one reads these staggering amounts, which have been confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture, one has to shake their head. There is a definite hunger problem in America, with an estimated one in six people being affected. The following quote if from feedingamerica.org : "Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different. Right now, millions of Americans are at risk of hunger. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot always make ends meet and may be forced to go without food."

No matter where you may be living in America (or the world, for that matter), food banks and organizations who feed the hungry, are crying for donations. Many of these places and local "soup kitchens" have even had to close their doors. Meanwhile, 430 billion pounds of food are simply being tossed into the garbage. Fact: 14% of garbage in American landfills is food!

Below is USDA’s list of reasons consumers trashed their food:

• Spillages, abrasion, bruising, excessive trimming, excessive or insufficient heat, inadequate storage, technical malfunction.

• Sprouting of grains and tubers, biological aging in fruit.

• Consumers becoming confused over “use-by” and “best before” dates so that food is discarded while still safe to eat.

• Lack of knowledge about preparation and appropriate portion sizes. For example, lack of consumer knowledge of when a papaya is ripe, how to prepare it, and how to use it as an ingredient are reasons for high papaya loss.

• Industry or government standards may cause some products to be rejected for human consumption (e.g., plate waste can’t be reused at restaurants).

• Psychological tastes, attitudes, and preferences leading to plate waste/scrapings (e.g., human aversion, such as “I don’t eat that,” or refusal to eat a food for religious reasons).

• Consumer demand for high cosmetic standards.

• Seasonal factors: more food is wasted in summer.

• Uneaten or leftover holiday foods.

This is truly a national nightmare and shame and what are they doing in Washington, DC about this? What they do best. Nothing!

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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