Article Lead Image

Last Week Tonight/YouTube

John Oliver can’t believe how much food we waste in the U.S.

America wastes a lot of perfectly good food, but John Oliver might have the solution.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Jul 20, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 8:05 am CDT

The United States wastes a lot of perfectly good food, but at the moment there’s not a lot we can do about it.

In Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver painted a depressing picture of landfills piled high with healthy vegetables and dairy products just past their use-by date—which, by the way, is an arbitrary time set by the food manufacturer.

The worst part is, plenty of stores and small businesses do want to donate food that either fails the aesthetic standard for public sale (say, asymmetrical peaches) or is just past its sell-by date, but oftentimes, donating the food just too expensive. Either that or they’re afraid of being sued if the food makes anyone sick.

But as John Oliver found out this week, no one has ever actually sued a food provider for this reason. It’s an urban myth. It’s just another in a string of sad facts about America’s wasted-food epidemic.

Food waste is a huge problem, but at least John Oliver was finally able to offer an easy solution to something he covered: tax breaks for farms and businesses that donate unwanted food. It won’t solve the entire problem, but it would certainly help a lot of people.

Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 20, 2015, 10:51 am CDT