Forty percent of the American food supply is tossed in the trash every day. Although retail and agricultural sources contribute some of that waste, households discard the most. In fact, the average American adult throws away $390 in food a year.
Why are we so wasteful? And what can we do about it?
“Food shopping is a complex process with many choices and decisions to make,” says Victoria Ligon, who studied the habits of a group of Tucson consumers for her master’s thesis in the University of Arizona Retailing and Consumer Sciences Program. “Every single person in the study told me they didn’t waste food,” Ligon said. Yet the daily food diaries and shopping receipts they kept told a different story.
On Thursday (Dec. 3) at 3:30 p.m., Ligon will be at the Arizona Senior Academy to talk about how we can strategize our shopping, minimize waste, and save money.
Ligon’s idea is to shop more often and buy less. The average American shops twice a week and in four to seven different stores to obtain the particular products they want, and they tend to overbuy. She suggests purchasing the food you plan to consume in the short run instead of planning for a week or two ahead.
That may be easier for shoppers living closer to food stores than those in outlying areas. But in the near future, same-day food delivery services such as AmazonFresh, already operating in a few large West Coast cities, have the potential of helping consumers not only reduce food waste but also conserve water and energy.
Ligon is the Program Coordinator for the Take Charge America Institute in the UA Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer