Sizing Down Food Waste: What’s The Worst Thing To Toss?
Sometimes I feel like a broken record at home: “Let’s eat the leftovers for dinner, so they don’t go to waste,”
But inevitably, Sunday night’s pasta and meatballs get tossed out of the refrigerator to make way for Friday night’s pizza.
Now scientists at the University of Minnesota offer up another reason to put those leftover meatballs in the tummy instead of the garbage: There are hidden calories in the beef that go to waste when you toss it.
These invisible calories could help out the 1 in 6 Americans who don’t get enough to eat each day, just as easily as the meatballs themselves. And when you add them all up, these hidden calories are enough to help the world feed a rapidly rising population, ecologists report Thursday in the journal Science.
About a third of all food grown around the world never gets eaten. Americans alone waste up to about 1,200 calories per person each day.
But not all these calories are equal, when you look at how they hurt the global food supply, says ecologist Paul West, who led the study.
Discarding a pound of boneless beef effectively wastes 24 times more calories than discarding a pound of wheat, West and his team report. Why? Because the beef also contains all the calories in the corn that fed the cow.
"If you throw out some arugula at a fancy restaurant in upstate New York, it doesn’t have much impact on the world’s food system," West says. "But throwing out a small steak has a huge impact — maybe more than all the arugula in the restaurant put together."
Photo by Morgan Walker/NPR