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Are Healthy Eaters Wasteful?

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Eating a diet based on whole foods deserves a thumbs-up. What’s hard to swallow, however, is that doing so might contribute to the heaps of food wasted in the United States.

Research supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and reported in the journal PLOS One found that consumers waste about 422 grams of food, per person, daily. The study also determined that this waste amounts to 30% of the daily calories available for consumption in America and involves the waste of resources like irrigation water and the 30 million acres of cropland used to produce this food.

Here is the kicker: Healthier diets were associated with greater amounts of wasted food. This does make sense, since a healthy diet typically contains more perishable foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy—the largest contributors to food waste. Armed with this knowledge, healthy eaters need to implement strategies to waste less. These can include planning meals more carefully, improving storage practices, and learning new ways to incorporate leftover fruits and veggies into various dishes (hello, green smoothies and banana bread).

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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