Friday Buffet

Huge news in the world of food waste: A new study out of the Univ. of Texas at Austin finds that the food America wastes represents about 2 percent of our total energy output. And, as the study’s authors note, it’s a conservative estimate because they use the 1995 estimate of 27 percent waste.

New Scientist used those findings to claim that we expend more energy in the food we discard than is available via offshore drilling. That may or may not be an exaggeration.

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Not quite as surprising, but still…A UK study found that Britons waste cheaper food more readily. It also showed that single people tend to waste more food than families.

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As a follow-up to Monday’s post, here’s some more on the former Trader Joe’s President who’s on a mission to reduce food waste.

My one beef with the article’s logic is that Trader Joe’s packaging produce doesn’t reduce waste, it increases it. If one of three peppers is off, the whole package is tossed. Plus, it often forces single people to buy too much. (Hence, the increased waste for one-person households.)

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If you’re considering composting for the first time, Annie Hauck Lawson has some tips for you. Here’s a pretty good how-to video on turning kitchen scraps to black gold.

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It looks like Ann Arbor’s composting will begin in the fall.

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  1. behindtherabbit
    Posted July 30, 2010 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    I am a big supporter of conserving food. We compost, grow a garden, try to buy from local merchants, etc. But, I’m also in favor of clear reporting based on facts, and the original New Scientist article just isn’t that. Its headline is just plain wrong. Here is my take, which is just number conversion using sources cited by the article itself:

    We lose 2150 trillion kJ per year due to wasted food. The estimated offshore reserves of crude oil total 40 billion barrels (available), which is 244760 trillion kJ. So no, we don’t waste more energy in food waste than is available via offshore drilling. If they really meant to use oil production, well, they are closer but still off by half: we produce 2.4 million barrels of crude per day, which totals 5360 trillion kJ per year. So they are still wrong.

    Underneath the sensationalism, though, is buried a story just as sad: we waste more energy in discarded food than it takes to produce all of our food. That is enough to warrant attention and change.

  2. Posted July 30, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that comment. I’ve changed the first item to minimize the New Scientist’s offshore drilling claim and emphasize the study itself.

    I assumed that the New Scientist would be…judicious in its wording, but that may not be the case. Still, I imagine that the estimates of offshore gas and oil vary.

    Again, thanks for the clarification.

  3. Posted July 30, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I have to say, I’m really not a fan of Trader Joe’s packaging.

    I get that using one-size of packaging helps them reduce waste, but so much of their produce just doesn’t need to be in packaging in the first place.

    Do I really need 3 onions in a plastic bag or tomatoes in plastic containers?

    I’m a big fan of the store – no question, but I still prefer to just get my produce from a farmer’s market.

  4. Posted July 31, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The only produce I do by at TJ’s is the bell peppers. MY first try I got a bad apple in the “clam shell” and now I endeavor to get all produce at the farmers market. Unfortunately Safeway has the market on organic bananas.
    But your site has made me nicely aware and I am wasting less and less. And I’m an “old” composter/green girl. *:)

  5. Posted August 1, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    I can see how packaging would keep some produce fresher longer, or from being damaged, but I’m with Dinesh in that most produce just shouldn’t be wrapped. And, as I wrote, not being able to buy the quantity you want is a real pet peeve of mine.

    Susan C–nice to hear from an old composter and a
    new waste avoider! I agree–farmer’s markets over TJ’s for produce.

  6. Posted August 2, 2010 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I only wonder there are so many hungry kids, older man on our planet and we waste food. I wish everyone on this planet gets atleast three meals a day and nobody dies of hunger.