We’ve all piled a little more—OK, a lot more—onto our plate than we can actually handle. You know, your eyes are bigger than your stomach, and all that. So what’s the harm in scraping some of it into the trash every now and then? Well, it turns out that all that food waste—and all those wasted calories—can add up quickly. According to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for a Livable Future, Americans throw away 1,217 calories of food every day, per person. You read that right: per person. In fact, we waste up to 40 percent of our country's available food every year.
Researchers used the USDA's Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data on 213 commodities and found that not only are we throwing away perfectly good food, but much of it is nutrient-dense, filled with valuable vitamins even as millions of Americans go hungry and malnourished.
As the study’s lead author and Center for a Livable Future fellow Marie Spiker said in a statement:
"Huge quantities of nutritious foods end up in landfills instead of meeting Americans' dietary needs. Our findings illustrate how food waste exists alongside inadequate intake of many nutrients."
Of course, some food waste is inevitable, but it's evident that it can be vastly curbed. As study overseer Roni Nef said:
"While not all food that is wasted could or should be recovered, it reminds us that we are dumping a great deal of high quality, nutritious food that people could be enjoying. We should keep in mind that while food recovery efforts are valuable, food recovery doesn't get to the heart of either the food insecurity problem or the waste problem. We need strategies addressing these challenges at multiple levels."
And we can all start by keeping our eye-to-stomach ratio in check.