Food Waste True or False

By Kevin Pink, Marketing & Development Assistant

It’s the season of farmers markets and cookouts! There’s always another new recipe to try out or leftovers from yet another cookout going into the refrigerator. We’ve all been there- whether it’s a half-eaten container of strawberries that grows fuzzy, or milk left a week or so too long, food waste is a common problem. Part of the issue is a lack of education on the topic. How much do you know about food waste in America? Join us for a little food waste true & false and put your knowledge to the test!



“Food waste isn’t a big deal.”

False. According to the USDA, 30-40 percent of food produced in the United States every year goes to waste. This equated to 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. At the same time, 15.8 million Americans live in food-insecure households. Wasted food goes to landfills, which account for 20% of the country’s emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Food waste is definitely a big deal.

“I can put eggshells in my compost.”

True. Eggshells add calcium. They will break down in your soil over time. Other dairy products and meat should not be composted in a residential setting, however, as they may attract animals. You can learn more about composting here.

NRDC and the Ad Council launched Save The Food to help educate consumers about food waste.

“I should never eat food that is past the ‘sell by’ date.”

False. Sell by dates do not indicate food safety, only a rough estimate of product freshness. The best tool for knowing if food is expired is your nose!

“The best way to prevent wasted produce is storing all fruits and veggies in the refrigerator.”

False. Refrigeration is great for leafy greens, asparagus, and many other fruits and vegetables, but there are plenty of them that are better stored at room temperature, including: tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, apples, bananas, melons, and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. For more on refrigeration, check out this page from the USDA.

“Not wasting food saves money.”

True. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy every year. NRDC estimates that this could cost a household as much as $2,275 annually.

The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy shows the most preferred ways to reduce food waste. Source reduction (like buying only as much food as you will be able to use before it spoils) is the most preferable option for reducing wasted food.

“Composting is the best way to prevent food waste.”

False. The best way to prevent food waste is to reduce what you buy to begin with! Plan your meals ahead of time, shop accordingly, and eat your leftovers! Compost things you absolutely won’t eat, like vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, etc.

Food waste is a complicated issue, but if we all do our part, we can help reach the EPA’s and USDA’s goal of halving food waste by 2030. For more on reducing food waste at home, check out the EPA’s article on reducing wasted food at home, visit and keep an eye right here on our blog!

One comment

  • Glad to see attention on this. In my “Making Green Sexy” and “‘Impossible’ is a Dare!” speeches, I talk about food waste as criminal as long as there are people without enough to eat—and avoidable through methods like those you advocate here.

    Shel Horowitz,

    August 22, 2017

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