Americans waste nearly a pound of food per person each day, with the amount depending on how healthy the diet is, a new study finds.
Between 2007-2014, U.S. consumers wasted nearly 150,000 tons of food daily, nearly a pound (422 grams) of food per person each day. Researchers estimate that food waste corresponded with the use of 30 million acres of land annually, which is 7 percent of total US crop land, and 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water each year.
According to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the amount of wasted food equals roughly 30 percent of the average daily calories consumed for every American.
While most people want to eat better, by putting more fruit and vegetables on their plates, the study found that such diets were associated with higher levels of food waste.
The study, by researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire, looked at 22 food groups. The researchers found that fruits, vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes (39 percent of total) were wasted most, followed by dairy (17 percent), and meat and mixed meat dishes (14 percent).
The study also found that healthier diets used less cropland than lower-quality diets, but led to greater waste in irrigation water and pesticides, which are used at higher rates for growing fruits and vegetables.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on food intake and diet quality from the 2015 Healthy Eating Index and USDA’s What We Eat in America (WWEIA) database, as well as food waste data. Using data from various U.S. government sources, the researchers estimated the amount of agricultural inputs, including irrigation water, pesticides and fertilizers, used to produce uneaten food.
Source: meatingplace.com, 4-20-18