August 21/Portland/Oregon Live -- A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council offers some startling statistics about the amount of food wasted in the U.S. and points out efforts by governments and consumers that could help cut back the amount of food that ends up in landfills.

In a report entitled "Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill," the council says that 40% of all food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten. Tha is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. The cash value of all that wasted food totals $165 billion each year.

Almost all of the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills, the report claims. The rotting food accounts for almost 25% of U.S. methane emissions, which play a factor in global warming.

Reducing the amount of food thrown away by just 15% could feed more than 25 million Americans every year, which would help fight hunger.To counter this food waste, the council recommends that the federal government study losses in national food systems and establish national goals for food waste reduction, and standardize and clarify the meaning of date labels on food. That would help consumers stop throwing out items due to misinterpretation. Meanwhile, it recommends that state and local governments lead waste-prevention campaigns. Food-related businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, should examine their losses and take steps to reduce them. Consumers should reduce waste by learning when food goes bad, buying imperfect produce, and storing and cooking food with an eye to reducing waste.