Study finds that American households throw more than 30 percent of their food each year
A new study has just shown something that many tourists say when they visit the United States: Americans are a waste.
Data shows that the value of wasted food in the country is approximately $ 240 billion annually, which is $ 1,866, 30 percent to 40 percent, per household.
The researchers also found that those with healthier diets throw away the most food because they buy more perishable fruits and vegetables than the average person.
However, households that use a shopping list when they buy groceries and those who have to travel to reach a supermarket have the lowest levels of waste.
Scroll down to watch the video
A new study has just shown something that many tourists say when they visit the United States: Americans are a waste. Data show that the value of wasted food in the country is approximately $ 240 billion annually, which is $ 1,866, 30 percent to 40 percent, per household.
Edward Jaenicke, professor of agricultural economics at the Penn State School of Agricultural Sciences, said: ‘Our findings are consistent with previous studies, which have shown that between 30 and 40 percent of the total food supply in the United States does not it is consumed, and that means that the resources used to produce unconsumed food, including land, energy, water and labor, are also wasted. ”
“But this study is the first to identify and analyze the level of food waste for individual households, which has been almost impossible to estimate because there are no complete and current data on food not consumed at the household level.”
Jaenicke and his associate, Yang Yu, a PhD candidate in agricultural, environmental and regional economics, analyzed data from 4,000 households that participated in the National Survey of Food Acquisition and Purchase of the United States Department of Agriculture, known as FoodAPS.
“According to our estimate, the average American household wastes 31.9% of the food it purchases,” Jaenicke said.
However, households that use a shopping list when they buy groceries and those who have to travel to reach a supermarket have the lowest levels of waste
‘More than two thirds of households in our study have estimates of food waste of between 20% and 50%.
“However, even the least wasteful household wastes 8.7 percent of the food it purchases.”
The duo also analyzed different characteristics that could increase or decrease household food waste.
They found that the more income, more waste and those with healthier diets that include more perishable fruits and vegetables also threw away more food, according to the researchers, who reported their findings in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
“It is possible that programs that encourage healthy diets without wanting to cause more waste,” Jaenicke said.
“That may be something to think about from a political perspective: how can we adjust these programs to reduce potential waste?”
The households that showed the lowest levels of food waste were those with the greatest food insecurity, such as those that used government programs to buy food.
“People in larger homes have more food handling options,” Jaenicke explained. “More people means that leftover food is more likely to be eaten.”
In addition, some supermarket items are sold in sizes that can influence waste, he said.
“A two-person house may not eat a whole head of cauliflower, so some could be wasted, while a larger house is more likely to eat it all, perhaps in one meal.”
Other households with lower levels of waste include those who use a shopping list when they visit the supermarket and those who must travel further to reach their main supermarket.
“This suggests that food planning and management are factors that influence the amount of wasted food,” Jaenicke said.
Not only is food waste disapproved, but independent studies have found that the life cycle of discarded food contributes to greenhouse emissions.
“ According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food waste is responsible for approximately 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gases annually, which would be, if considered as a country, the third largest emitter of carbon after the United States and China, ” Jaenicke said.
The researchers suggested that this study may help meet the need for comprehensive estimates of household food waste that can be generalized to a wide range of household groups.
“While accurate measurement of food waste is important, it may be equally important to further investigate how specific household factors influence the amount of food that is wasted,” said Jaenicke. “We expect our methodology to provide a new lens through which to analyze the individual waste of household food.”
How much food does the world waste every year?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 2.9 billion pounds (or a third of the world’s food) is lost or wasted each year.
Fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers are the most wasted food.
In industrialized countries, all this amounts to $ 680 billion in food. In developing countries, it’s $ 310 billion.
The average waste per capita in Europe and North America is 95-115 kg, or 209-254 lb, each year.
Food lost or wasted in Latin America every year is enough to feed 300 million people. In Europe, it could feed 200 million people, and in Africa, it could feed 300 million people.