News / USA

Americans Trash 25 Percent of Their Food

US wastes more energy in the food it throws away, than some countries consume all year

Multimedia

Audio

With food in America being so abundant and relatively cheap, consumers are less concerned about throwing away over 25 percent of what they buy.
With food in America being so abundant and relatively cheap, consumers are less concerned about throwing away over 25 percent of what they buy.

Americans waste more energy in the food they throw away, than Switzerland or Sweden consume in a year.

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin say that points to a painless way to save energy: stop wasting food.

According to a new study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, food waste and the energy required to produce it, represent an unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and reduce climate changing emissions.

Scientists at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy set out to answer three questions about the relationship between food and energy use: how much energy is in food, how much food is wasted and how much energy is in the wasted food.

Wasting energy

Michael Webber, the center's associate director and co-author of the study, says between eight and 16 percent of U.S. energy consumption is tied up in food production, transportation, preservation and disposal. "And then we throw away at least a quarter of that food. Some people say even 50 percent."

Twenty-five percent of vegetables and 23 percent of fruit are wasted in the US.
Twenty-five percent of vegetables and 23 percent of fruit are wasted in the US.

What Americans spend on food has declined in relative terms for decades. And, because food is so abundant and cheap, Americans are not as concerned about tossing it out.

So, Webber and his colleagues calculated how much energy was needed to produce the trashed food. "We found that there's at least two percent of the nation's energy consumption is embedded in food we throw away. And that ends up being a pretty big number because of how much energy we consume overall as a nation."

Putting brakes on food waste

Two percent is more energy than Switzerland or Sweden consume in a year and the equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil.

During World War I, signs like this encouraged Americans to conserve food.
During World War I, signs like this encouraged Americans to conserve food.

Webber's study suggests that putting the brakes on food waste would be good for the planet and the pocketbook. "It might reduce our emissions. It might reduce our environmental impacts. We just have to find a way to do it so that it is affordable as well. It might be we save money because we are wasting less money on food we don't eat."  

Webber says that the study is based on old data badly that needs to be revised.  But still he says the numbers are good enough to make a point: food waste is a waste of energy. "I think the next step for us at a research level is to get a better sense of what's going on, get better data, get better scientific analysis. At the same time perhaps we could consider some policy options to reduce the waste."

According to the study, the most wasted foods were fats and oils, dairy products, grains, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid