Molly Priesmeyer is the co-owner of Good Work Group, a creative and storytelling consultancy dedicated to helping mission-driven businesses and organizations succeed. Her stories on everything from arts to culture to the environment have appeared in the Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; City Pages; Rolling Stone; Mpls. St. Paul Magazine; MinnPost; and more. She has been working on her best-selling novel "Why Me? A Martyr's Guide to Life" since fourth grade.

Hey, who wasted all this food? How Twin Cities households toss out nearly $100 a month

Posted by: Molly Priesmeyer Updated: July 10, 2014 - 9:35 AM

Food waste? Don't blame us. At least that's the sentiment of a majority of Americans, according to a survey released this week by Harris Poll. The survey found that 63 percent of consumers are concerned about food waste—making it a bigger issue for them than pollution and climate change—but only 34 percent believe it to be an issue in their homes. 

Here's the thing: It is. Just look in your trash can/compost bin. 

As a June report by the Committee on World Food Security notes, there are a number of serious issues that affect food waste at every stage of its life, including harvesting, processing, storage, transporation, packaging, retail, and consumption. Yet here in the States, food waste at the consumption level—when people discard it in their homes or during foodservice—accounts for 60 percent of total food loss. 

The Food Policy Research Center at the U of M released a report in April outlining some of the problems with food loss and waste in the United States. Among the key findings:

Roughly 40% of the United States (US) food supply (1500 calories/person/day) is never eaten, which is among the highest rates of food loss globally. Addressing this loss could help reduce food insecurity and the environmental impacts of agriculture.

Tremendous resources are used to produce uneaten food in the US: 30% of fertilizer, 31% of cropland, 25% of total freshwater consumption, and 2% of total energy consumption.

Food waste generated when people discard food in homes and foodservice accounts for 60% of food loss, is mostly avoidable, and is under-emphasized as an opportunity to improve the food system.

Targeting efforts on reducing waste of meat has great potential to benefit both the environment and the household budget.

How much food do we waste in the Twin Cities? According to Eureka Recycling, more than 31 percent of Minnesota's waste is food and non-recyclable paper. The organization's most recent data shows that, on average, Twin Citians waste about $96 worth of food every month.

Nearly $100. That's enough to invest in the next Twitter. Or to buy a cheap kayak. Or to magically turn into $52,000 in 20 years... Or, more realistically, to help feed the 842 million people who don't get enough to eat every day, and to help provide food for a planet expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. 

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