The Sciences

Wasted Food = Wasted Energy: My Latest Article in New Scientist

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumAug 12, 2010 2:13 PM


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Between one-quarter and one-third of the food produced in the U.S. gets wasted. Why care? A new analysis by my colleagues Amanda Cuellar and Michael Webber at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at UT found that the energy embedded in wasted food accounts for at least 2 percent of our national energy budget. This week’s New Scientist features an Op-Ed I composed with Michael about wasting less to conserve more. We begin:

IT IS no secret that meeting the world's growing energy demands will be difficult. So far, most of the focus has been on finding oil in areas that are ever more difficult to access - think BP's Deepwater Horizon well - bringing new fossil fuels such as tar sands online and increasing energy efficiency. Yet we have been overlooking an easier way. We could save an enormous amount of energy by tackling the huge problem of food waste. Doing so is likely to be quicker than many of the other options on the table, while also saving money and reducing emissions.

The energy footprint of food is enormous. Consider the US, where just 5 per cent of the global population consumes one-fifth of the world's energy. Around 15 per cent of the energy used in the US is swallowed up by food production and distribution. -- Global energy consumption is projected to increase by close to 50 per cent between 2006 and 2030. That makes reducing our dependency on fossil fuels even more challenging. Tackling food waste should be added to the toolbox of policy options because its relative impact is on the same scale as more popular measures such as biofuel production and offshore drilling. Although we will never eliminate food waste completely, we can assuredly create the means to discard less by coming up with the right incentives for producers and consumers.

Read on at New Scientist...

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