If you've ever side-eyed your leftovers or not-so-discreetly scraped them into your garbage or compost bin, John Oliver has a few reasons for you to reconsider that move.
Because, get this: Almost 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. never ends up on a plate. (As a visual, that's 730 football stadiums worth of food going straight into landfills.)
It happens for a bunch of reasons, but the "Last Week Tonight" host makes it pretty clear that we could still totally overhaul our trashy habits (and maybe help some people in the process).
First of all, we need to re-think "good food."
From producers to sellers to customers, we need to really think hard about when food really goes bad. We shouldn't be so quick to ditch our slightly bruised (but otherwise totally edible) fruits and veggies. After all, aesthetics don't mean much once we're digesting it.
Those "sell-by" date stickers aren't absolute.
Also, we should probably think twice about throwing out food that still smells and looks all right just because the little "sell by" sticker has yesterday's date. It turns out, those dates aren't warnings that your milk carton will self-destruct at sunset on the day listed -- they're just estimates from food providers on when the product will be freshest. Don't go drinking chunky milk, but don't toss something out without being sure it's gone bad.
We need to know how to donate food (and do it more).
Oliver explains how smaller businesses aren't totally clear on whether they can actually afford to donate their unused products to charities or soup kitchens because they aren't offered tax breaks like larger businesses. The cost of transporting all that food to the right locations isn't cheap, and a business may not be able to afford to shell out those resources for karma points alone.
Likewise, private citizens need to know that you are not at risk of getting hit with a lawsuit if you donate bad food. There are no "high-powered lawyers representing the hungry," as Oliver puts it, and you aren't going to be crucified if your donated food isn't edible. They just won't serve it.
And we have to keep thinking about the human cost.
Ultimately, it all seems ridiculous and sad when you actually see a mother interviewed, one of the nearly 50 million Americans who struggles to put food on the table, nearly in tears as she talks about the struggle of feeding her three young children. With a budget "down to the penny," she says she'll always opt to not eat to make sure her kids get a meal.
"Watching all that food go from farm to not-a-table is awful for a bunch of reasons," Oliver said. "First and most obviously, there are many people in this country who need that food. ... The fact that we throw away a third of our food gets pretty alarming when you hear from some of those people."