clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

John Oliver Scolds America for Its Food Waste Problem

Americans waste nearly 40 percent of the food produced each year.

Screengrab

Food waste is a major issue around the world and particularly in the U.S. A recent report revealed Americans waste nearly 40 percent (about 730 football stadiums worth) of food produced every year. Comedian John Oliver tackled the subject on last night's episode of Last Week Tonight, noting: "Food waste is like the band Rascal Flatts: it can fill a surprising number of stadiums even though most people consider it complete garbage."

We are Dutch-ovening the entire planet

Oliver points out that "watching all that food go from farm to not a table is awful for a bunch of reasons," but especially because nearly 50 million people in the country experienced "food insecurity" in 2013. He adds that Americans are wasting the labor and natural resources that went into producing the food: "At a time when the landscape of California is shriveling up like a pumpkin in front of a house with a lazy dad, it seems especially unwise that farmers are pumping water into food that ends up being used as a garnish for landfills."

The comedian notes that the landfills of food waste may be America's largest problem because of the sheer amount of methane — a greenhouse gas — they produce. "When we dump food into a landfill, we're essentially throwing a trash blanket over a flatulent food man and Dutch-ovening the entire planet."

Earlier this year, the French government introduced a law that made it illegal for stores to throw out edible food, instead requiring them to donate it. However, no such law exists in the U.S. Instead, Oliver notes, stores "often routinely overstock so that you can walk in and see tons of food there." If they don't do that, consumers strangely might not buy anything because they think there must be something wrong with what's left." Go watch the segment below:

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day