A more recent article in the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science of 25 November 2009, suggested that the wastage figure is even higher at 39 per cent.
Wasting food should still be considered sinful. We live in a wasteful and 'throw-away' society where it seems acceptable to consume more than we require, whether it is food, water or energy and surplus is wasted.
The difference between calories available and calories consumed, they say, is food wasted. "We called it the missing mass of American food," says co-author Carson Chow, a mathematician at NIDDK. In 2003, some 3750 calories were available daily per capita; 2300 were consumed, so 1450 were wasted, comprising 39% of the available food supply, the team reports in the November issue of PLoS ONE. This figure exceeds the 27% estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from interviews with consumers and producers.
Much of the waste is probably happening at home, say experts. A study published earlier this year by Jeffery Sobal, a sociologist at Cornell University, and colleagues examined food waste in Tompkins County, New York, through interviews. They found that production accounted for 20% of waste, distribution for about another 20%, and consumers for the remaining 60%. "Food waste used to be a cultural sin," Sobal says.
Surely consuming more calories (kilojoules) than is required is also being wasteful, even if modern production methods have made certain types of food, especially those high in fats and sugar, cheaper.