John Oliver Confronts America’s Food Waste Problem on ‘Last Week Tonight’


America loves to feed landfills with tons of perfectly edible food. This no surprising or new phenomenon, yet despite general knowledge of it, the practice has yet to change. And last night, during Last Week Tonight, John Oliver provided a timely reminder of just how ridiculous our wasteful tendencies are.

“At this rate,” Oliver said, “in 40 years when you order pizza on Domino’s they’ll just deliver it straight to the nearest dumpster… as they should, but that’s not the point.”

He debunked some common misconceptions, like the sanctity of the revered “Sell by Date” (which are decided on by the manufacturers who often make dates ridiculously early, for obvious reasons), and the idea that supermarkets can’t donate their excess food in fear of being sued. In reality, no one has ever sued a food donor because of a little thing called the Emerson Act, which covers donors who make food donations in good faith.

The situation’s sobering to say the least, especially when you consider that at the last count, 49 million Americans lived in food- insecure households (2013 USDA report). Small restaurants and stores who would like to donate to food banks have to spend their own time and money to do so, without any promise of a tax break, as donations are not a part of the permanent code. The America Gives More Act tried to correct this earlier this year; it passed the House, then went to the Senate, where the permanent tax break was removed. Of course. Won’t be long until you’re meeting for lunch at Land-Fil-A.