The idea is blindingly simple. Massive quantities of precious crude oil could be saved through the simple expedient of not wasting food.
Scientists say that, in the US alone, being cannier with food could save the energy equivalent of about 350million barrels of oil a year — without spending a penny or damaging one’s present quality of life.
That apparently equates to about 2% of annual energy consumption in the US.
By the same token, considerable savings would be possible here in Europe, even though we are a lot less wasteful than our American cousins.
A study reported in Environmental Science & Technology, an American journal, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the US.
Imagine how much oil it would take in Europe where, even though we use less of it on a per-head basis than do Americans, the population is much larger.
Estimates indicate that 8-16% of energy consumption in the US went towards food production in 2007. But the US Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste about 27% of their food.
In the UK, new research suggests that Brits are throwing away a total of £10billion worth of food each year. Together we dump 6.7million tonnes of food waste each year, 4.1million tonnes of which could have been eaten. This equates to £420 per household every year.
According to Environmental Science & Technology, the energy embedded in wasted food represents a substantial target for decreasing energy consumption in the US.