All American Food Waste Levels Are Alarming, but Meat Waste Is the Most Catastrophic

A new study shows that when we waste meat, it has a much more substantial negative environmental impact than wasting greens


Not all food waste is created equal.

We may try to hide behind our dumpsters, but there’s no doubt about it: America has a serious food waste problem. We waste almost one third of the food we produce annually, which would be enough to almost entirely eliminate domestic hunger.However, a new study from researchers at the University of Missouri has found that throwing away meat has much more of a negative environmental impact than throwing away fruits and vegetables, simply because the production of meat expels more joules of energy than the production of greens.

"While many of us are concerned about food waste, we also need to consider the resources that are wasted when we throw away edible food," said Christine Costello, assistant research professor at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and co-author of the study, in a statement. "When people waste meat, fossil fuels, as well as fertilizers, are also wasted.”


Costello and her team spent months analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions from food waste samples and found that most greenhouse gas emissions from wasted meat occur as a result of fertilizer use, vehicle transportation, and utility use on the farm.