On Terminology and Terminals

I’ve been excited to see the press that Kevin Hall et al’s study has received. You know, the one that found that America wastes 40 percent of its food.

It was featured in The Economist and then The New York Times “Idea of the Day” blog repeated the findings with a quote from the former.

They found that the average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. [Kilocalorie is another word for food calorie.]

The problem is that the wording used in the Economist and repeated by The Times is a bit misleading. It’s not that average person wastes that much each day, but that the per capita waste is 1,400 calories.

Basically, the researchers found the total waste from the food chain and divide it by the population to give it some perspective.

I asked the head researcher, Kevin Hall, a nice guy from what I can tell, and he agreed that the wording was confusing. So that’s the good news for Friday–we don’t each waste 1400 calories every day; we have plenty of help throughout the food chain.

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Secondly, I’m off to England tonight to do some research and hopefully enjoy a pint or two. It’ll be the first time I answer “both” to the ‘Business or pleasure?’ question.

Anyway, what that means for you all is that next week’s posts are up in the air. I hope to write some from the road, but no promises.

In case I don’t post, think of it this way: the book will be all the better for the trip. Cheers!

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