Pretty much all of us have cleaned out our refrigerators and found a shocking amount of spoiled food — and we aren’t alone. In fact, experts now say 30 to 50 percent of world’s food goes to waste.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American throws away 33 pounds, or $40 worth, of food every month. And seeing perishable food go bad can actually affect our future purchases.

“We forget we have all these fresh fruits and vegetables, and at the end of the week we have to throw them away,” said Esther Gove, a mother of three young children in South Berwick, Maine. “Now, I don’t buy as much fresh produce as I used to.”

In addition to spoilage issues, grocers often send otherwise edible fruits and vegetables to the trash if they’re deemed too unattractive to be sold. The US Environmental Protection Agency says 33 million tons of food waste hit landfills and incinerators in 2010, the largest solid waste product in the system.

To address the problem, federal officials say clarifying “sell by” and “use by” dates could make consumers less likely to throw food away too soon. The agency has also suggested that retailers divert “uglier” but otherwise edible food to soup kitchens rather than tossing it in the trash.

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