The U.S. produces about 591 billion pounds of food each year, and up to half of it goes to waste, costing farmers, consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars.
In his new book, "American Wasteland" (Da Capo Press, 2010), Jonathan Bloom examines the story of discarded food, from vegetables left to rot in the field to unsold hamburgers shovelled into restaurant trash bins.
He also offers potential remedies, such as taxes on landfills, expanded composting programs and incentives for farmers to harvest all that they grow and to donate what they can't sell.
THE CYCLE OF FOOD WASTE
Food waste begins at farms. With lettuce, for example, the average harvest rate has been estimated at 85% to 90%. The rest of the lettuce—heads that don't look or feel perfect on quick inspection—are left in the field. One cucumber grower said that at least half of the cucumbers on his farms aren't harvested,mostly because they are too curved (making them hard to pack) or have white spots or small cracks. Farm losses are generally higher for hand-picked fruit and perishable vegetables than for machine-harvested commodity crops like corn and wheat; about 9% of commodity crops planted in the U.S. aren't harvested.
Look at the rest of the cycle of food waste here.