Food Wasted Foot Print

How much food do you throw away per day? 

It is estimated that the average person throws away a pound per day! That’s about 25% of your food by weight which equates to about 30 million acres of cropland, 4.2 trillion gallons of water and nearly 2 billion pounds of fertilizer.

The research also contains a potentially controversial finding among those who focus on promoting healthier diets — as well as among environmental advocates who regularly attack the beef industry for its large environmental footprint.

Most wasted foods are actually the healthiest: fruits and vegetables; these represented 39% of the food wasted per person.

Higher quality diets actually result in higher amounts of food waste, largely because those diets have more fruits and vegetables in them.  Dairy and beef were the second and third most wasted foods, respectively.

Although the study did not present explicit public opinion data on why people waste food, for fruits and vegetables in particular it is often the perception that they are flawed, or have gone bad. For other types of food, Niles cited issues ranging from large portion sizes to confusion about expiration dates.

Niles and Conrad said the solutions to food waste include educating people — for instance, teaching that a bruised banana can still be eaten — and a lot more meal planning.

What is clear, given the numbers here, is we cannot hope to feed even more people on Earth, with less of an environmental impact, if we cannot get food waste under control.

“We think it’s really important to pursue efforts for nutrition and improving environmental outcomes simultaneously,” Niles said. “As we improve our diet quality we should be thinking about the multiple strategies we have to make sure food isn’t getting wasted at the same time.”

For a link to the full article at Washington Post, click here.

Learn more about our food recovery program, or about The Environmental Center’s Rethink Food Waste Challenge

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