agriculture * food * energy * environment
This story has so much irony about the modern condition.
We make such a big deal about using food to make fuel that we don’t realize how much fuel we could save by just stop wasting food.
The question is the more we continue our addiction to fossil fuels, the more we encourage waste and destruction? By simplying stop wasting food, we would have no need to rape the Earth for unconventional sources of fossil fuels, such as oil from oil tar sands and oil shale.
We express so much concern about how we are going to feed a expanding global population when, in reality, we produce enough food today to probably come close to feeding double the present world’s population.
In reality, growing food sometimes seems to be the easy part of the equation despite its many, many challenge. It’s after the food is produced is where many of the modern problems exist with the biggest obstacles being infrastructure and politics that keeps the food from the people who need.
This is a bold statement, but I really can’t understand why people have to go hungry in our modern age. Despite the growing population, the diminishing amount of farmland available to grow the food and the struggle for water, there’s is plenty of food available on this planet for the people who live here. If we are going to feed a hungry population, we better be more worried about how to get people to cooperate in getting the food where it is needed, invest in the needed infrastructure to make sure the food can get there and most of all, quit wasting food.
According to the American Chemical Company, scientists have identified a way that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year — “without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food”. Their 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.
The study found that food contains energy and requires energy to produce, process, and transport.
“Estimates indicate that between 8 and 16 percent of energy consumption in the United States went toward food production in 2007,” according to the study. ”Despite this large energy investment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.”
According to the study, the analysis of wasted food and the energy needed to ready it for consumption concluded that the U.S. wasted about 2030 trillion BTU of energy in 2007, or the equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil.
“That represents about 2 percent of annual energy consumption in the U.S.
“Consequently, the energy embedded in wasted food represents a substantial target for decreasing energy consumption in the U.S.,” according to the study. “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 bottom line: Conspicuous consumption is the source of our energy crisis and the threat of global warming. We can still have the kind of progress technology promises by following these three little words: Recyle, Reuse and Reduce.
|Percentage of Various Foods Wasted in the U.S.|
|Fats and oils||33%|
|Sugar and other caloric sweeteners||31%|
|Meat, poultry, fish||16%|
|Dry beans, peas, lentils||16%|
|Tree nuts and peanuts||16%|