Scare tactics are not uncommon in trying to coax young eaters to clean their plates. “There are starving children in China who would love to eat what you are willing to waste,” is a common one.
The fact of the matter is that Americans do waste an enormous amount of food.
Up to one-fifth of America’s food goes to waste each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means an estimated 130 pounds of food per person ends up in landfills.
The USDA estimates the value of this lost food at around $31 billion.
Sending leftovers to China may not be feasible, but according to the USDA’s “A Citizen’s Guide to Food Recovery,” about 49 million people could be fed by those resources. That’s more than twice the worldwide number of people who die of starvation annually.
The United Nations Development Programme estimated in its 1998 Human Development Report that the annual cost of providing universal health care and nutrition was about $13 billion. Amazingly enough, Americans and Europeans together spend nearly $17 billion per year on … pet food.