An average American throws away 422 grams (almost one pound) of food each day. This brings the total to more than 150,000 tons nationwide. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are wasted the most. The study was carried out by PLOS One and they examined the relationship between food waste, diet quality, and nutrient waste in the face of agricultural and environmental sustainability in the US.
According to the estimates, 30 percent of the daily food goes to waste every day. It is not just about the food being wasted. It is hurting farmers who ultimately waste 4.2 trillion gallons of water, 350 million kilograms of pesticides, and 816 million kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer to tend to 12 million hectares of wasted cropland each year.
Healthier foods have a perishable nature and fruits and vegetables tend to produce more waste than low-quality diets. The fruits and vegetables may require less land but they do use more water and pesticides than other foods and contribute to an increased waste.
Data from various US Government databases was collected and used to come up with the estimates. However, there were limitations as food intake information was gathered from self-reported dietary data that is subject to measurement error.
The estimates also included oils and fats leftover from cooking which is not considered by waste by a lot of people. The approach was based on the eating habits in the US and may not apply to the other countries. However, it is still a large amount of food that is being wasted and we need to do something about it.
The researchers say it is an issue that demands more attention. “Eating healthy is important, and brings many benefits, but as we pursue these diets, we must think much more consciously about food waste,” said study co-author Meredith Niles in a statement.
It is shocking to know that enough food is wasted globally each year that it would be enough to feed 2 billion people on an average diet. According to the authorities, efforts to improve diet quality and reduce waste need to go simultaneously. This will come in the form of increasing consumer knowledge on how to properly prepare and store perishables.
It is an alarming figure indeed and with the evergrowing population, this needs to be brought in control before things get out of hand even further.