The Insane Reason We Waste $162 Billion on Food

TIME

Knowing when to throw out milk that’s gone sour or bread that’s grown mold is a no-brainer, but for many of the foods we eat, it’s not nearly as obvious when we shouldn’t eat them, and manufacturers often don’t make it any easier.

The upshot is that we throw out tons — literally — of perfectly good food. The USDA’s Economic Research Service estimated that in 2010, we threw out 133 billion pounds of food, which is almost a third of the country’s edible food.

That’s embarrassing. It’s also shockingly expensive. The USDA estimates the value of the food we chucked at $161.6 billion — and that’s only for a single year.

“Data show that many consumers do not understand the difference between a ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date,” the Institute of Food Technologists says. The group

Especially for processed foods, there are a profusion of labeling terms like…

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