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Record amount of food wasted by Americans each year

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It's a staggering thought: Of the 4.4 billion tons of foods produced every year worldwide, half is wasted.

That's according to a study conducted by the British-based Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Started in 2010, the study quickly found the majority of the waste happens in developed countries like the United States and throughout Europe.

Most of the food is thrown out by consumers and businesses.

Edgar Grier of Charlotte said more folks should follow his lead. "I never waste food. I save leftovers. I try to cook a reasonable portion and you know, try not to overcook stuff."

But the responsibility isn't just on the consumer. The study also pointed the finger at businesses who throw out perfectly good food or food that may only be a few days past its expiration date.

That's why Jennifer Wozniak, marketing leader with Whole Foods market in Charlotte, says their philosophy is different.

"Hopefully we're helping set an example for other businesses as well as folks and how they use their food at home," she said.

They do that by recycling a lot of the fresh produce they have to throw out.

"We work with Earthfarms Organics and they come and pick up our organic waste and compost it, thereby diverting it from the landfills," said Wozniak.

In fact, the company composts more than 700 pounds of the store's organic waste each month.

They also donate hundreds of dollars in other unwanted food to local food banks each day.

Trader Joe's said that they donate a majority of their items that are not sellable. "The donations are done seven days a week to different non-profit and charitable organizations such as local food banks. We take the safety of our customers and donations very seriously and unless the donations are recommended for safe consumption, we will not donate them."

Other factors that contribute to waste: improper harvesting and issues with storage and transportation.

You can check out the full study here.

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