The Trash Blog

Searching for Dr. Jones

Vegetables always seem to go off before you get a chance to really finish them.

It’s not always easy to keep veggies fresh here on the trash blog… especially when the cooler loses all cooling capacity in the southwest desert!

So here is something interesting.

Professor Timothy Jones is (was?) an archeologist who studied food waste. He had published some astounding figures for the USDA – most notably that 40% of all food produced in the United States goes to waste. He had been at the University of Arizona for years, but looking on UofA’s faculty webpage he was nowhere to be found. I reached out to the Anthropology Department. They told me he had left the university with no contact information. They have searched for him a number of times and have not been able to find him.

Where is Dr. Jones? Living on an organic farm out in the country? busy dumpster driving? in an asylum too shocked to carry on?

If you know, let us know. In the mean time, here is some of his data. This may not be the most graceful way of presenting it, but the figures are so captivating (and surprising) that I have to write some of them out for you.

Who hasn't had those last few forgotten-about slices of bread turn blue and cheesy?

Who hasn’t had those last few forgotten-about slices of bread turn blue and cheesy?

Household Level
– At the household level, people throw away around 14% of the food they buy, equivalent to 1.28lbs/day, or 467lbs/year (this does not include food that goes down the disposal, into compost piles, or fed to pets).
– For a family of four, this costs about $590/year.
– Grain and vegetables are wasted the most.
– Hispanic households waste approximately 25% less than non-hispanic households, and lower income households also have lower food loss rates; however, Hispanic households were also reported to buy less produce, which may contribute to their lower rates of food waste.
– Packaged, edible foods never taken out of their container make up 14% of all household food waste.

Commercial Level
– At the commercial level, convenience stores waste, by far, the highest proportion of their food – 26%.
– Supermarkets waste on average 120lbs of food per store per day.
– Small ‘mom and pop’ restaurants have the lowest food loss rates in the commercial sector.
– Fast food restaurants waste nearly 10% of the food that comes in their doors.

It's impossible to hang on to every scrap of food and ingest it before it goes bad.

It’s impossible to hang on to every scrap of food and ingest it before it goes bad.

Farm Level
– Waste varies dramatically by crop, farm, and year, and occurs mainly from weather, deterioration, neglect, and processing.
– Dr. Jones presented data on citrus, apples, and fresh vegetables.
– Overall the citrus industry loses approximately 29% of its crop annually;
– the vegable industry loses 18%,
– and the apple industry loses an average of 12% of its crop annually.

(all from Jones’ 2006 work for the USDA)

This entry was written by Margaret and published on June 17, 2013 at 2:58 pm. It’s filed under Agriculture, Facts, Food Waste, MSW, Organics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Searching for Dr. Jones

  1. Diana on said:

    Very interesting. I wonder if the figure $ for the Morale’s family even gets to a $100 ;).

  2. Pingback: American Wasteland | The Trash Blog

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