Americans waste a pound of food per person each day

Americans waste a pound of food per person each day

Andrew Cummings
April 20, 2018

About 150,000 tons of food is tossed out in United States households each day, equivalent to about a third of the daily calories that each American consumes. So says a study published today by a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists in the journal PLOS ONE.

Food waste occurs from farm to the plate in the USA, with separate research released this week showing that American supermarkets are failing to address the issue.

Most surprising about the study was the amount of healthier food being wasted.

The quantity of wasted food amounts to around 30% of the average daily calories that each US citizen consumes, the paper shows, and the amount differs depending on how healthy your diet is.

Fruits and vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes accounted for 39 percent of food waste, followed by dairy (17 percent), meat and mixed meat dishes (14 percent), and grains and grain mixed dishes (12 percent).

Researchers at The University of Vermont found that healthier diets used less cropland than lower quality diets, but wasted 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water each year.

"Food waste is an issue that plays out at many different levels", said Zach Conrad from the USDA.

And the healthiest Americans are more at fault than others, according to the study, due to their diets high in fruits and vegetables - the most wasted foods.

A national study of USA consumers finds that fruit, vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes end up as food waste more than other types of food.

Through their analysis, they found an interesting connection.

"Just because a banana has a bruise on it doesn't mean we have to throw it away". "The current results suggest that simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste may be critical". It is a massive environmental and infrastructure issue-food take a lot of energy to produce, and it builds up in landfills as methane-emitting waste.

To understand what Americans consume, the researchers collected data on food intake and diet quality from the 2015 Healthy Eating Index, the US Department of Agriculture's What We Eat in America database, and available food waste data.

Intriguingly, the researchers found that higher quality diets-which include more fruits and vegetables-were associated with increased food waste and used up more water and pesticides than lower quality diets, although they used up less cropland. He was initially surprised to see healthy diets linked to more food waste, though after reading the paper, Hanks speculates that people eating high quality diets with more perishable foods might not be using up all the food before it spoils. This could include educating consumers on how to properly prepare and store fresh fruit and vegetables, teaching people how to tell whether produce has truly gone off or if it simply has superficial damage, and revising sell-by dates and labels for consistency. But overall, the food-waste study helps fill gaps in knowledge, the authors wrote.

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