Collateral Food Waste: 360 Million Barrels of Oil

Oct 5, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
Yikes! That&39;s oil down the drain! (Photo: jbloom/Creative Commons)

It's truly devastating to open the Frigidaire crisper drawer on a Sunday afternoon to find that last week's veggies have gone off.

The broccoli looks like seaweed; the carrots could sponge your sink.

It's sadder still—given hunger statistics in a country known for wealth—to think that 27 percent of the food in America goes into a Dumpster without ever touching a tongue.

The trouble train doesn't stop at rotten food, hungry bellies, or a wasted paycheck.

Food that gets dumped into the trash also wastes the energy that went into growing, transporting, processing, selling, storing, prepping and hauling it away to the landfill.

That discarded energy in the U.S. comes to a whopping 360 million barrels of oil annually.

By not eating what you bought, you're needlessly contributing to climate change.

The specifics of how that number was determined unfurl in a great deal of geek speak (energy equations and the like). If you're into wonk language, the report, released by researchers at the University of Texas—Austin, is available here (click on "PDF with links").

What you really need to know is pretty straightforward: tossing out food is killing cranes in the Gulf. Or polluting air in Los Angeles. Or endangering polar bears in Antarctica. You get the idea.

So next time you hit up the grocery store, choose wisely and buy only what you can reasonably consume. For tips on reducing your food waste, check out the action link below.

Photo: jbloom/Creative Commons via Flickr

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