Americans waste over 140 trillion calories of food a year

For the first time, scientists have generated a calorie-count for just how much food we waste in a year, and it is an insanely high amount: over 141 trillion calories, almost a full third of the total food calories produced in a year.

You can parse out that calorie count data a lot of ways: It's 1,249 calories of wasted food for every person in the country a day; it's 133 billion pounds; it's $161 billion lost. But, however you slice it up, it's a whole lot of food that we're wasting.

The calorie count takes the full measure of total food loss in the U.S. A small amount of that loss is inevitable — a bit of fat trimmed off of a chicken thigh or even the water that evaporates out of vegetables when you cook them.

But much more of it is down to cosmetic issues (a lot of work goes into keeping misshapen tomatoes and oddly colored apples out of our grocery bins) or because the food is simply left to spoil by the manufacturers, or often in our own refrigerators where at least 20% of the loss comes from.

The study, the first of its kind, is the work of the USDA's Economic Research Service and uses data from the most recent year available, 2010. You can read the whole thing here.

Image: sporkist.