Photo: hipsxxhearts, Flickr
Moms, you can stop invoking those starving children in Africa -- a recent study has provided a whole new way to guilt trip your kids into cleaning their plate.
More than 25 percent of available food in the U.S. is thrown away every year, estimates the USDA. But when you figure that all that food had to be produced, processed and transported, it's not just leftover chicken parmesan we're wasting, it's energy -- and a lot of it.
Researches at the University of Texas–Austin calculate the cost of our annual food waste to be roughly equivalent to 360 million barrels of oil. That's about 2 percent of the energy that the country uses each year, which doesn't sound too bad, until you consider that it's enough to power the entire U.S. for a week, as AOL News points out.
The UT team admits that they had to use a range of data from different years to come up with their figures, but if anything, they say, they've erred on the conservative side.
Their estimate is particularly compelling when put into the context of the debates that have been going on across the political spectrum about energy independence and oil production. For example, an article about the UT study in Popular Mechanics notes that drilling in restricted areas on the outer continental shelf would produce an estimated 70 million barrels of oil per year.
With the specter of last summer's massive oil spill in the Gulf still looming large, it makes you wonder whether we should be drilling more deepwater wells just so we can keep tossing out more day-old bread.