Scientists have determined that there might be a simple yet overlooked method to saving energy; stop wasting food.
The new research is reported in the ACS’ semi-monthly journal Environmental Science and Technology and states that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year simply by being careful about how much food they produce and consume.
The analysis of wasted food found that the US wasted about 2030 trillion BTU (British thermal unit) of energy in 2007, the equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil or about 2 percent of the country’s annual energy consumption.
“Consequently, the energy embedded in wasted food represents a substantial target for decreasing energy consumption in the U.S.,” the article notes. “The wasted energy calculated here is a conservative estimate both because the food waste data are incomplete and outdated and the energy consumption data for food service and sales are incomplete.”
The study found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the United States. This totalled between 8 to 16 percent of the nation’s energy consumption in 2007.
But despite this massive allocation of energy, 27 percent of the food prepared and distributed is wasted each year.
Percentage of Various Foods Wasted in the U.S.
Fats and oils — 33%
Dairy — 32%
Grain — 32%
Eggs — 31%
Sugar and other caloric sweeteners — 31%
Vegetables — 25%
Fruit — 23%
Meat, poultry, fish — 16%
Dry beans, peas, lentils — 16%
Tree nuts and peanuts — 16%