Preventing wasted food 101

Programs and initiatives across the United States and around the world give us the newest information about our food systems and provide toolkits and strategies for preventing wasted food. One third of all food produced in the world goes uneaten and 40% in the United States. Nutritious food is precious due to high inputs of resources like water, land, labor, energy, and money. This is a global issue that needs our attention, and with our efforts it can be addressed to help ensure equitable distribution and proper care for life sustaining food.


The Ad Council paired up with NRDC and Save the Food to educate about large-scale food loss throughout the nation.

  • Food Waste | NRDC - Research on U.S. food systems to prevent wasting good food
  • Save The Food - Statistics about food loss in the U.S., recipes, meal planning, storage tips
  • Life of a strawberry - From farm, through distribution and retail, to home — and the garbage?!

The "Food: Too good to waste" campaign through U.S. EPA includes an implementation guide and toolkit for individuals and communities to “help them keep food out of landfills and money in their pockets”

Picture of food in a refrigeratorTake individual action

The largest contributor to wasted food is residential homes, which means individual actions can collectively make a big difference. Start with free and simple behavior changes; what steps can you take right now?

  • Start small. Prepare smaller portions at home or order half-portions to split when eating out.
  • Plan recipes in advance. Think about the exact ingredients and amount you need and stick to it.
  • Shop smarter. Buy only what you need, shop bulk bins, use a basket rather than a cart, and see 6 ways to shop smart.
  • Support imperfection. Buy “ugly” fruits and vegetables that will still taste just the same and don’t be afraid of brown spots that can be cut off.
  • Leave nothing behind. Save leftovers for another meal, freeze and date them, or use them in a different dish. Search for recipes that are flexible and use the ingredients you still have.
  • Improve storage practices. Follow “first in, first out” rule and move older products towards the front of your fridge and pantry. Understand date labels — “best by” or “best before” means it is safe for consumption after, and “use by” indicates that date by which the food must be eaten.
  • Buy local. Get fresh produce from the farmers market, get sustainably and ethically produced food, and keep your money local.
  • Support food justice movements. Donate money, time or extra food to a local food shelf, or sign up for various food rescue programs.
  • Grow your own. Start a garden at your home or community garden to grow herbs or vegetables, and you are more likely to eat every bit that you grow yourself.
  • Compost. Learn how to properly collect food scraps and bring it to your nearest organics collection site or start your own backyard compost.