Sunday Protein: 104 Chickens in Your Garbage This Year

American throw out way too much food. This fact is not under debate. Unless you believe the Armageddon is coming with in the next five to ten years, there is simply no excuse for throwing out over 25% of your food uneaten – that’s average for a typical American. The NYTimes offered a nice summary last week:

As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.

So you throw out about two nice roasting chickens per week. That’s the equivalent of one hundred and four chickens being born, raised, slaughtered and possible cooked simply so you can have the pleasure of throwing them straight into the garbage because you impulse bought them but now feel like ordering a bucket of general tso’s tonight.

Sure, it’s a slightly exaggerated hypothetical situation, but the problem exists, and it’s massive. Most articles tend to focus on large scale ways to fix the problem: composting, collecting donations from restaurants and instituting federal programs. But there’s a much simpler solution: BUY LESS FOOD. Plan a bit before you go to the supermarket. If you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to eat something before it expires, don’t buy it. Yes it’s nice to have organic unpreserved hotdog buns, but if you’re not going to eat all eight in the two days before they become covered with mold (happens to me everytime w/Trader Joe’s organic buns), then consider sacrificing a bit of your hipster cred to buy the 7-11 hotdog buns that last two months.

As far as meat goes, do what I’ve always said: buy less and buy better. It takes like two minutes to come up with a menu for the week; do so and you will find yourself with a lot less crap to carry home and with fewer random, expensive impulse buys.

If you don’t make these small sacrifices, you’ll pay for it. Now that world food supplies are being squeezed, prices are rising, and you’ll end up paying a premium equivalent to the 25% of food that you waste.

For more (and better coverage) of this issue, check out the Wasted Food blog.

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