Forty percent of food produced is never eaten

In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This estimate, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on society:

  • Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
  • Land, water, labor, energy, and other inputs used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.

Where does food waste come from?

Surplus food comes from a multitude of places. 30%-40% of food produced doesn’t even leave the farm. It is either plowed under by farm machinery, goes unharvested, or is harvested but farmers have no one to sell to. When the harvest is good large-scale farmers who contract with supermarkets and restaurants find themselves growing more food than they are contracted to produce. This food is considered a surplus and is not considered sell-able to supermarkets, which leaves farmers with a large quantity of food and no one to sell to. 

Food surplus can also happen during production when food gets damaged or doesn’t pass beauty specs and is removed from the production line. Short-term food surplus can also be found in supermarkets or restaurants when food doesn’t get sold or gets too close to its sell-by date. 

Is household food waste surplus?  

No. Food that goes uneaten in a household is no considered a surplus because the food has moved outside of the commercial food chain and achieved its objective of being purchased. Food that has left the commercial chain but goes uneaten inevitably becomes food waste. 


How can surplus food be saved?


There are countless resources on the internet to educate and help you to take action against food waste in your home and business. While having so many amazing resources is a great thing, it can be overwhelming to begin, and difficult to decide what to listen to. For this reason, we have included a list of action and education tools to make your life easier.

The following resources will bring awareness to the problems that come with untapped food potential, and the possibilities that come with reducing food waste through the stories of others taking on this challenge:

Food Waste Reduction Techniques

Before even getting to the food recycling stage, there are many ways to reduce your food waste with smart planning, shopping, and cooking techniques. Take some time to read a few of the articles below to find out how you can make sure that you are saving food- and money- with a few daily habits. 

Recipes for Leftover Food and Food Scraps

Saving Vegetable Scraps to Make Broth: 

A Recipe Book for your Leftovers- IKEA Food Scrapbook:

38 Recipes to Clean Out Your Fridge: 

Donating Food 

Donating your food while it is still appropriate for human consumption is another great way to reduce food insecurity in your community and to avoid wasting food before it gets to the compost stage. Here are two ways to get involved at donation sites in your area:

  1. Contact Good Shepherd Food Bank – a network of Maine feeding agencies. Tel:207-782-3554
  2. Food Pantries Click this link to put in your zip code and find the nearest food pantry.

Proper Food Storage

Keep Your Food Fresh As Long as Possible- FoodKeeper Safety and Storage Advice: 

FoodKeeper Mobile App: 

Meal Planning

A Beginners Guide to Meal Planning: 

6 Ways To Reduce Waste Through Savvy Meal Planning: 

Proper food shopping

Learn How to Stretch Your Budget- MyPlate: 

Shopping to Avoid Food Waste: 

Need Help with Your Grocery List?- AnyList Mobile App: