More than half of American’s food waste is in the back yard
Washington (CNN) Nearly two-thirds of Americans’ food waste, including meat and poultry, is thrown away in the backyard, according to a new study.
“Americans waste a great deal of their food in the process of growing, processing and cooking,” says Daniel Schoenfeld, a professor of food science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lead author of the study published in the journal Food Policy.
“What we find is that most of it is not in the house.”
The researchers analyzed food waste that had been collected at over 8,000 food service establishments in the United States, finding that nearly a third of the food waste was thrown away at the end of its life.
They also found that Americans spend an average of 10% of their income on food waste.
Schoenfeld says the findings suggest that food waste should be made more accessible to consumers, as it has been for decades.
“Our findings show that there is a real need to make food waste more accessible,” he says.
“This is something that is not happening at the national level.”
Schoenfield and his colleagues at the University of Chicago’s Food Institute and the University at Buffalo analyzed food items, including vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, poultry, and dairy products, and asked participants to rate how much they wanted to eat of each item.
The researchers then collected food waste in bins or boxes at the restaurants where they worked.
They then tested the food products to determine the amount of waste.
They found that a quarter of the waste came from the back of the home, or a vegetable garden.
In comparison, about a third came from a vegetable bin or compost pile.
About 30% of the back-yard food waste came at the store.
The researchers also analyzed food wastes at restaurants in the city of Atlanta, and found that food scraps were less common there than in cities like New York and Chicago.
The study found that in Atlanta, the average waste of food waste at restaurants was about 8 pounds (3.5 kilograms) a year.
In the city where the researchers were based, food waste from restaurants dropped by about 50% to just over 1,000 pounds a year, a reduction that is similar to what happened in New York City, according a statement from the study.
In addition, the researchers found that there was less food waste on the streets than in the suburbs.
About one-third of all food waste collected in New Yorkers came from public sidewalks.
About 4% of all waste was found at the front of the house, the study found.
Schönfeld says that his team wanted to examine how waste is distributed throughout the food system, and how the food industry can help address that.
The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The full study is available online.