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Last Week Tonight on food waste: John Oliver reveals the U.S. throws away 40 percent of food produced

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HBO

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver shed light on America’s relationship with food. While products like Carl Jr.’s “Most American Thickburger” and all-you-can-eat options from restaurants like Applebee’s and Red Lobster are certainly part of the country’s problematic attitudes about food, it’s not the amount of available food that is a problem so much as how much gets thrown away.

In the above segment, Oliver reveals that up to 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. never gets eaten, and that American households waste between 15–20 percent of purchased food.

Between arbitrary sell-by and best-by dates set by manufacturers, the lack of tax breaks for small businesses who might otherwise donate their extra food, and the fact that only aesthetically pleasing produce merits a purchase, the amount of methane emitted by landfills from America’s food waste is, as Oliver so eloquently phrases it, like “throwing a trash blanket over a flatulent food man and Dutch oven-ing the entire planet.”

Check out the video for more sobering statistics, including Oliver’s alternative commercial for an even more American Thickburger. (It involves “a tear rolling down Abraham Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore which is now nearly chin-deep in billions of discarded cheeseburgers.”)

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