An estimated thirty-one percent of the food grown, produced, and transported in the United States is wasted annually. This waste translates into ninety-six billion pounds of food and $165 billion in lost economic value. Food waste occurs at all phases of the supply chain, stretching from farm to table, and imposes substantial economic, environmental, and social costs. This Article highlights the staggering quantity of food waste in the United States and argues that certain innovative policies and market-based initiatives that strategically target the most egregious and unjustifiable types of food waste can efficiently reduce this problem. Applying a simple cost-benefit framework to determine when it is most cost-justifiable to reduce food waste, this Article identifies specific stages of the food supply chain where food waste reduction policies are likely to generate net social benefits. The Article also sets forth principles to aid policymakers in tailoring incentive policies and legal requirements to optimally mitigate food waste in the coming decades.

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