As they sit down to their Thanksgiving Day dinner, many Americans will marvel at the cornucopia of food at their table. What many dont think about is how much food is wasted, not just on Thursday, but every day, from the beginning of the harvest to the scraps tossed into the garbage. Mounting new evidence, in fact, shows just how wasteful the nation is with its bounty.
America has been long been the poster child for the "throw-away society" and researchers have known for years about the volumes of food Americans toss into the trash. Only recently, though, has that been quantified as a percentage of what is produced. A new study from the University of Arizona in Tucson indicates that forty to fifty percent of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten.
Timothy W. Jones, an anthropologist at the UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, has spent the last 10 years measuring food loss, including the last eight under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jones started in the farms and orchards, went on through the warehouses, retail outlets and dining rooms, and to landfills. What he found was that not only is edible food discarded that could feed people who need it, but the rate of loss, even partially corrected, could save U.S. consumers and corporations tens of billions of dollars each year. Jones says these losses also can be framed in terms of environmental degradation and national security.
Timothy W. Jones, Ph.D. | EurekAlert!
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