Americans eat a lot, also throw a lot of food. That is the main point worth underlining in the new study published at Plos One, a peer-reviewed journal. Surprisingly, it is just one of the two large-scale papers about food waste.
In 2010, the study says that about one-hundred and thirty-three billion pounds of edible food both at the retail and consumer levels went uneaten. That’s about one-thousand two-hundred and forty-nine calories per person per day. Two-thirds of which were attributed to consumers, meaning people in homes that waste the food that they purchase.
In addition to the significant waste of resources, the paper says that this behavior of consumers has a substantial negative impact to the environment as about ninety-five percent of food waste enter the United States landfills.
In a press release, Ohio State University professor Brian Roe explains that the results provide the data required to develop targeted efforts to reduce waste of food each year. “If we can increase awareness of the problem, consumers are more likely to increase purposeful action to reduce food waste,” he said. “You don’t change your behavior if you don’t realize there’s a problem in the first place.”
The team of researchers has developed a national survey to identify the awareness and attitudes of Americans regarding food waste. Last year, it was administered to five-hundred people representative of the country’s population.
The study has found that about fifty-three percent of American respondents said that they’re aware that it is a problem; that’s about ten percent higher than the related research published by Johns Hopkins last year.
Doctoral student Danyi Qi, one of the authors of the research, says that they’ve found three things that people consider regarding food waste:
First, about sixty-eight percent of respondents believe that throwing away edible food after the package date has passed is reducing the chance of food-linked diseases and illnesses. Meanwhile, about fifty-nine percent believe that some food waste is ‘necessary’ for freshness and flavorful certainty.
Second, seventy-seven percent said they feel a “general sense of guilt” when throwing food away. Also, about fifty-eight percent claimed to understand that throwing away of food is bad for the environment. Meanwhile, only forty-two percent said they believe wasted food is a “major source of wasted money.”
And third, which is perhaps the most interesting, is that fifty-one percent of respondents believe it would be difficult to reduce home food waste. Plus, about forty-two percent said they don’t have enough time to worry about it. For the economic perspective, fifty-three percent admit that they waste a lot of food but still buy more in bulk or in large quantities during store sales.
For the throwing-the-blame perspective, about eighty-seven percent believed that they waste less food than other similar households.
The research in full is available at the PLOS One website, and it is titled ‘Household Food Waste: Multivariate Regression and Principal Components Analyses of Awareness and Attitudes among U.S. Consumers.’