- USA consumers wasted nearly a pound (422 grams) of food per person daily, which is equal to 30 percent of daily calories consumed and 25 percent of daily food eaten by weight. "This study is the first to consider food waste as another important component of varying diet outcomes".
Wasted food does more damage than simply go in the garbage when it could have been eaten or reused.
"Higher quality diets have greater amounts of fruits and vegetables, which are being wasted in greater quantities than other food", said co-author Meredith Niles, an assistant professor at the University of Vermont. In recent years, with a new focus on reducing food waste for environmental and public health reasons, researchers have begun to get ever more granular in their study of exactly how, why, when, where and what food gets wasted. "We all want the system to work well and to work for everyone's benefit including the environment's".
"Consumers aren't connecting the dots, (and) they don't see the cost when they throw food in the trash", Jahns said.
The researchers examined data on food intake and diet quality from the 2015 Healthy Eating Index, in addition to data on food waste. The data only includes self-reported food waste for individuals, not the amount of unused food that restaurants discard.
Americans waste almost 1,50,000 tons of food per day, amounting to about one pound (422 grams) per person, and fruits and vegetables are mostly what gets tossed, said a study Wednesday.
Fruits and vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes accounted for 39 percent of food waste, followed by dairy (17 percent), meat and mixed meat dishes (14 percent), and grains and grain mixed dishes (12 percent).
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A national study of U.S. consumers finds that fruit, vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes end up as food waste more than other types of food.
Jahns, a research nutritionist at the USDA's Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, cautions that the study found associations between high quality diets and food waste, not a cause and effect.
One limitation of the study is that the data on what people ate was self-reported, and people often underestimate how much food they eat and waste.
The study notes that several countries, including Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and Qatar, have adopted dietary guidelines that incorporate environmental sustainability, but none include food waste as a factor.
"Food waste is an issue that plays out at many different levels".
These findings indicate that simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste are needed. Households throw out approximately 150,000 tons of food each day which equates to around one-third of the daily calories consumed in the US.
The study authors say helping consumers understand the difference between produce that is just bruised versus produce that has truly spoiled is important to reduce food waste. While thinking about improving nutrition, researchers simultaneously need to think about food waste, says Niles. It looked at the consumer habits of Americans between 2007 and 2014.