Here’s a sobering fact: there is apparently more energy in wasted food in the US than in the Gulf of Mexico:
Americans aren’t, technically, eating an average of 3774 calories per day. This figure is calculated by looking at food produced, divided by the number of Americans. It assumes we’re eating all that, but, in reality, according to environmental scientist Gidon Eshel we really only eat about 2800 calories per day. That whopping 3774 includes both what we eatâ€”and what we waste…
We use a lot of energy producing, transporting, processing, storing and cooking food we don’t eat. About 2150 trillion kilojoules worth a year, according to a recent study. That’s more kilojoules than the United States could produce in biofuels. And it’s more than we already produce in all the oil and gas extracted annually from the Gulf of Mexico.
This is suggestive for several reasons. Firstly, it reinforces the point that the United States cannot drill the way out of their oil addiction problems – domestic oil supplies just aren’t adequate to make much of a difference. Secondly, it is a reminder of how energy is both a critical and a largely hidden part of our society. Thirdly, it shows how people respond to economic incentives – such as the cheapness of food – by acting frugally or wastefully in response. Fourthly, it shows yet another area where conservation can help us, as we make the shift to sustainable and zero-carbon forms of energy production and use.