Consumers are becoming much more aware of the environmental impacts of food waste, and this is now becoming a priority for many.
However, according to a study by researchers In Penn State, food waste is still extremely high in the US. Despite efforts to increase sustainability, consumers are still throwing away almost a third of all the food they have in their homes.
The researchers looked at data from over 4000 respondents in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Household Food Acquisition Survey. The survey looked at many factors, including age, gender, height and weight, as well as how much food they were buying and throwing away.
Using this data, the researchers were able to calculate how much food they needed based on their body size and how much food they were wasting in total.
The results showed that, in the respondents homes, 32% of the food they bought was wasted.
There were other factors that had an effect on the results, too. For example, how far they were from a grocery store was a factor – those who lived further away were less likely to waste food.
In addition, households that followed healthier diets were throwing away more, which is probably due to healthy foods having a shorter shelf-life.
One of the researchers, Edward Jaenicke, noted, “Our findings are consistent with previous studies, which have shown that that 30 percent and 40 percent of the total food supply in the United States goes uneaten — and that means that resources used to produce the uneaten food, including land, energy, water, and labor, are wasted as well.”
“But this study is the first to identify and analyze the level of food waste for individual households, which has been nearly impossible to estimate because comprehensive, current data on uneaten food at the household level do not exist. More than two-thirds of households in our study have food-waste estimates of between 20 percent and 50 percent. However, even the least wasteful households waste 8.7 percent of the food it acquires.”