Courtesy of this paper at the Public Library of Science. This is pretty bad.
Basically, the authors attempt to quantify food waste by calculating global food production to the US versus average caloric intake by the American public. And astonishly, that type of calculation will result in a figure that suggests that, “US per capita food waste has progressively increased by ~50% since 1974 reaching more than 1400 kcal per person per day or 150 trillion kcal per year.”
There’s article at the Economist that breaks it down quite nicely.
Food that is not eaten cannot, of course, make someone fat. Nevertheless, Dr Hall and his colleagues suspect the wastage they have discovered and America’s rising levels of obesity are connected. They suggest what they call the “push effect” of increased food availability and marketing is responsible. The upshot is more food in the waste-bin, as well as more in the stomach.
That is probably not the whole story, however. The cheaper food is, the more likely it is to be thrown away even before it is sold to someone who might actually eat it. Such supply-chain waste can be built into the price, and usually makes economic sense. Throwing away leftovers is often better business than risking running out of stock. Yet any waste of a valuable resource is offensive at a visceral level. Just ask those who lived through the war.
Oh yeah, for those not familiar with PLosONE, you can even comment on the article in question at the PLoS site.