The 18 Foods Americans Are Most Likely To Throw Out

Now that Thanksgiving is over, your fridge is stuffed with, well, stuffing. And turkey. And mashed potatoes. And cranberry sauce. You've already had your fair share of turkey sandwiches, and you know that with each passing day, your leftovers' conditions are worsening. And as much as you hate to admit it, you see a major fridge clean-out in the near future.

But Thanksgiving is certainly not the only time Americans waste their food. In fact, the amount of food we toss out annually is becoming a pretty big problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps make up 20% of our landfills, and each year Americans toss 35 million tons of untouched groceries.

The EPA says that restaurants and businesses are responsible for about half of food waste, and consumers for the other half — which costs American households $124 billion each year.

So which foods do we throw out the most? Well, fresh fruits are a major culprit, sitting out proudly (until bruised) on our counters. According to The Atlantic, Americans throw away 31% of all tomatoes they buy, or 21 tomatoes a year per person.

Here's the rest of the list, thanks to the USDA's food-loss estimates among consumers for 2010:

  1. Fish and seafood
  2. Added sugar and sweeteners
  3. Fresh fruit
  4. Fresh vegetables
  5. Meat
  6. Vegetables
  7. Meat, poultry, and fish
  8. Eggs
  9. Dairy products
  10. Fluid milk
  11. Grain products
  12. Fruit
  13. Other dairy products
  14. Processed vegetables
  15. Poultry
  16. Added fats and oils
  17. Processed fruit
  18. Tree nuts and peanuts

So how do we break this wasteful habit? The EPA recommends a number of strategies for reducing waste, like making shopping lists, learning the proper way to store your groceries, composting food scraps, and donating excess. You can also check out their program "Food: Too Good to Waste," which offers families the tools they need to reduce food waste and save time and money at the grocery store.

While we'd never suggest eating food past its prime — especially with items like eggs and poultry — we urge you to shop more consciously, keeping shelf life (or better yet, a complete menu) in mind. Your wallet will thank you.

(h/t The Atlantic)

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