Americans waste a pound of food per person each day

Darnell Taylor
April 20, 2018

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.

The report, by the Center for Biological Diversity, found that just four of the 10 largest grocery chains in the U.S. have specific food waste reduction commitments.

Remaining foods and dishes each accounted for less than 10 percent of total food waste: other foods and dishes (mostly candy, soft drinks and other beverages), salty snacks, soup, potatoes and mixed potato dishes, nuts and seeds, Mexican dishes, eggs and mixed egg dishes, and table oils and salad dressing.

- Growing fruits and vegetables-signatures of diet quality required less land than other crops but more water and pesticide. In a surprising finding, the report also showed a link between quality of diet and food waste: the healthier a person's diet, the more food they threw in the trash. "We all want the system to work well and to work for everyone's benefit including the environment's".

The research team analyzed eight years of food data up to 2014, examining the hotspots of where food is wasted, what type of food is wasted and what consumers say they do during mealtimes.

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To investigate the impact of diet quality on food waste and environmental sustainability, Conrad and colleagues collected data on food intake and diet quality from the Healthy Eating Index-2015 as well as data on food waste. Now, a new study has found that between 2007-2014, USA consumers wasted almost 150,000 tons of food per day - that's about a pound (422 grams) per person, every day.

- Of 22 food groups studied, fruits, vegetables, and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes (39 percent of total) were wasted the most-followed by dairy (17 percent) and meat and mixed-meat dishes (14 percent).

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

Growing this wasted food used 30 million acres of cropland, 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water, 1.8 billion pounds of nitrogen fertiliser and 780 million pounds of pesticides. "A healthy diet isn't necessarily bad for the environment if consumers are sensitive to factors such as perishability when they shop and cook", she says. But overall, the food-waste study helps fill gaps in knowledge, the authors wrote. 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. "The current results suggest that simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste may be critical".

While it's true that some cities now require composting, more restaurants are banning unnecessary plastics like straws, and more people are trying to reduce waste in their own homes by using food that would usually be discarded (like broccoli stems), Americans still have a huge problem with waste. The next step, he says, is to "go deeper into those questions of 'what's driving that waste?'"

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