Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a Waste?

Americans have criticized for being wasteful in many ways even though there has been a slight shift to becoming a more frugal society due to the economic downturn. Nevertheless, there is one area, however, where frugality has not set in, our food consumption. I will not bore you with a story about America's obesity problem. The issue I am concerned about is that we tend not to do what my Grand mom always made sure I did at the dinner table, clean off my plate. We have become a wasteful society when it comes to food. There are reports out there stating that the rich countries throw away 25 to 30% of what is bought at the supermarkets.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in Bethesda, Maryland has looked into this issue in regard to Americans. They concluded that the average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day, which amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the entire country. This represents 40% of the US food supply, which is up from 28% in 1974.

The production of these wasted calories has accounted for more than 1/4 of America's consumption of freshwater and 300 million barrels of oil a year. Add in the amount of methane that this rotting heap of thrown away food creates, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, this level of waste is not just a food problem anymore.

One must be scratching his or her head trying to tie the obesity problem with this wasted food crisis. At first blush, they would seem to be contradictions; however, scientists concluded in their above report that there is a connection. They call it the "push effect" in which the increased supply of food and how it is marketed has created this wasteful food culture. Also, the fact that food still is relatively cheap is another contributing factor. If food was more costly, we would not be so wasteful because we would see both money and food that is being thrown away every time we turn to that garbage can.

Perhaps we can all make a another New Years resolution this year along with our goal to lose weight. Let's be less wasteful. Of course, this still means us cleaning off your plate, but this time we will not asking for seconds.

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