Sustainable America Blog

Food Waste Scorecard: The Results Are In

I Value Food Food Waste Quiz results

In January, when we launched our food waste campaign, we started quizzing visitors about their food waste habits. While it’s not a scientific survey of the population as a whole — 84% of respondents were female, for instance — we did find some interesting trends. Here are a few of the results; scroll down for more commentary below.

I Value Food Food Waste Quiz Results infographic

One of the strongest findings is that younger Americans (<45 years old) are less likely than older ones to engage in several household food planning practices that lead to less food waste — sticking to shopping lists, checking home inventory before shopping, and basing meals on what you have on hand before it goes bad. Whether attention to these skills comes with age, or there is something generationally different about Americans’ approach to food planning is unclear. Regardless, this may indicate that more education on shopping and cooking can help boost these good habits.

Overall, our quiz takers seemed savvier about “Best By” date labels than the general public, compared to the results of our 2013 Food/Fuel Public Poll. In that survey, 25% of the general public reported throwing food away on or before its “Use By” or “Best By” or “Sell By” date. Only 11% of those taking the I Value Food quiz reported similar behavior. (Read more about why date labels aren’t a good indicator of food safety.)

A surprisingly large percentage of respondents — 37% — reported composting some or all of their food scraps, compared to 17% of the general public in our 2013 poll. The Pacific region topped that at 46%, which makes sense because, according to Biocycle, of the 198 communities that do pick-ups of household food scraps, 80% are on the West Coast.

If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, check it out at

Watch John Oliver Take Aim at Food Waste in America
Free Meal Planning Template
Food Waste Tips From Real People

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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