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New American Chemical Society Podcast: Stop Wasting Food And Save Energy

November 1, 2010

Generations of Moms and Grandmas have preached the virtues of not wasting food. Now scientists are reporting a compelling new reason to follow this advice: It could save enormous amounts of energy, according to the latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning podcast series, “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.” They say that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year “” without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food.

The new Global Challenges podcast and website describe scientific research explaining that food contains energy and requires energy to produce, process, and transport. Estimates indicate that between 8 and 16 percent of energy consumption in the United States went toward food production in 2007. Michael Webber and Amanda Cu©llar, in their study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the United States.

They said that despite this large energy investment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.

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