Most Americans are aware that food waste is a problem, are concerned about it, and say they work to reduce their own waste, but nearly three quarters believe that they waste less food than the national average, new research suggests.
The findings, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, are significant given that 31 to 40 percent of the American food supply goes to waste, primarily in homes, stores and restaurants. The top foods wasted, by weight, are fruits and vegetables, due in part to their perishability and bulk. Food waste costs Americans $161.6 billion annually.
A report on the research is published June 10 in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Americans perceive themselves as wasting very little food, but in reality, we are wasting substantial quantities,” says study leader Dr. Roni Neff, director of the Food System Sustainability & Public Health Program at CLF and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of environmental health sciences. “It happens throughout the food chain, including both a lot of waste by consumers, and a lot on our behalf, when businesses think we won’t buy imperfect food. The root causes are complex.”