Every time I see statistics about how much more food we're eating now than we used to, my skepto-meter alarms.
I know there's some kind of calculation for "waste" but I wonder if it's realistic. Have you ever observed how much food goes back to the kitchen at restaurants? At some places, serving sizes are so outrageously large that even if people take doggie-bags home there's a lot of refuse. The breads and chips automatically placed on the table but not eaten or taken; the half-eaten salads which mediocre kitchens and servers bring in an untimely fashion; oversized cloying desserts ordered and only pecked-at....
Many people take home carry-out boxes with their leftovers only to forget them in the car and throw them away when discovered. I've observed an awful lot of carefully-wrapped-up tidbits which didn't seem nearly so appetizing the next day ... and so are discarded. SO many on-the-road meals twice as big as they should have been, but the remainders left behind because of the impossibility of using them. Kid-servings three times as big as their little stomachs can handle, and not really worth saving.
Then there's at-home eating! How many of you throw away "past use-by date" items without even looking to see if they're still good? I'm CONSTANTLY astonished when an electrical outage causes people to throw away frozen things which haven't even completely thawed! What do those people use for brains? Does it never occur to them to go ahead and cook those foods, then re-freeze???
An awful lot of food goes to waste after a living-history weekend. Some of us make an effort to take away perishables before they spoil, but I don't know how many gallons of milk, dozens of eggs, partial packages of cheese and sliced meats, juice, and other leftovers are thrown out. I'll bet there are lots of similar situations every day in the catering and private-club world.
Too-many-dish traditional holiday meals, where people eat leftovers of turkey or ham as long as they can stand them, and finally pitch week-old casseroles which only ONE of guests insisted on serving....
How often do you put things down the dispose-all, into the compost heap, or feed them to the dog? How many grey furry packages have you found in the back of the refrigerator, so you didn't even know what you were discarding? How many carry-outs with unwanted sauces, dressings and topping-packets -- after all, the grape jelly that came home with your breakfast leftovers was once part of the fresh-fruit market ... and the sugar commodity ... and the processed-food production stats.
I'm well aware that looked at historically THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. Used to be, the trencher-loaves used by nobility became dinner for the peasants ... not that this was actually a GOOD thing, but it goes to show you that AT LEAST waste was avoided wherever possible. In fact, before modern cities caused the practice to be outlawed, people in earlier America ALWAYS kept pigs if they could, to eat the refuse from the kitchen in anticipation of them becoming part of the meal later. The compost-pile is a comparatively recent innovation, to deal with part of the waste that backyard animals used to dispose of for us.
Nowadays, if a package is open, it can't be given away to charity. Untouched restaurant food has to be used by the staff or discarded, I understand.
Society's desire for dietary variety causes us to buy meats and produce in impractical quantities, so that if we don't plan carefully it's horribly easy to let green things spoil in our kitchens. I can't tell you how many packages of celery I've bought and used just a few stalks of, before consigning the limp gooey remainders to the trash can or compost bucket. Halves of bell-peppers; forgotten bits of onion; moldy yams; sprouted and shriveled potatoes; disintegrating fruits....
I'm sure there are ways to amend this madness, but I don't know what it is.
But don't let the bean-counters tell us that we actually ate all that stuff -- we didn't. The dump-rats and sewer cockroaches did.