Most of the reports you hear about food waste don’t even include the amount that’s left behind on farms, but new research shows it’s a lot.
You might be familiar with the fact that in the U.S., an estimated 40% of food goes uneaten. That’s an alarming statistic on its own. This amount of wasted food correlates with waste in other areas: Around 21% of all water used in the U.S. and 18% of cropland is dedicated to food that will never get eaten, exercising a significant strain on already stressed resources.
But most of the traditional research into food waste looks only at what goes uneaten at the distribution, retail, and consumer levels. These measurements capture how much inventory grocery stores toss, for instance, or how much consumers let go rotten in their fridge without eating. When a team of researchers at the University of Santa Clara set out to figure out how much produce is wasted before it even leaves the fields, they found a much more dire picture.