Healthy Eating Produces More Food Waste

The Lempert Report
June 29, 2018

Higher-quality diets are associated with higher levels of food waste, according to a study by researchers at USDA's Agricultural Research Service, University of Vermont, and the University of New Hampshire

This study also finds healthy diets led to more waste in irrigation water and use of pesticides since both of these factors are used at higher rates to grow fruits and vegetables. Wow! 

So how do we reconcile that people who are looking to eat a healthier diet also presumably care more about the environment, sustainability and food waste? 

For the study, the researchers analyzed 22 food groups. They found that 39 percent of fruits, vegetables, and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes are being thrown away. In comparison, only 17 percent of dairy food was wasted, while only 14 percent of meat and mixed meat dishes were wasted. 

Between 2007 and 2014, U.S. consumers wasted approximately 150,000 tons of food per day or about a pound of food per person each day. The study, published in PLOS ONE, stated that this figure corresponds roughly to 30 percent of the average daily calories consumed for every American. 

While the study warnsabout the food waste and the impact it may bring to the environment, it also highlights that low-quality diets that produce less food waste, on the other hand, come with negative health impacts.