Food wasteScrappy problem: Discarded food in a supermarket dumpster.Photo: Sporkist

Americans’ profligate food-tossing ways waste the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil per year, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas. The figure is actually probably higher, since the researchers admit that their estimate that 27 percent of the food in this country gets thrown out is low.

Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, a forthcoming book about waste in the food system, says that figure should be closer to the more shameful 40 percent. Enough food gets discarded in this country “to fill the Rose Bowl every day,” he told CNN in an interview last week.

Why do we waste so much? We take food for granted because it’s everywhere. “There’s food in pharmacies, gas stations, and placers like Home Depot. We’re inundated. And it’s cheap,” Bloom says. Watch the interview:

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Of course, as we here at Grist rant weekly, we pay for that kind of food in other ways — skyrocketing medical costs, environmental degradation, and the abuse of animals and farm workers. Now we can add the waste of precious fossil fuels to that list.

Get Off Your Ass Alert: Start composting your own food scraps — this Grist slideshow shows you how — so at least the energy gets recycled back to the soil. Even better, get on your bike like this Canadian guy and help businesses compost theirs.

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