For a nation fixated on the responsible use of resources, we’re surprisingly wasteful with energy when it comes to putting food on the table.
From the diesel fuel tractors that harvest our crops, to the refrigerated trucks that transport products cross-country, to the labor-saving technology found in the home such as toasters and self-cleaning ovens, the U.S. food system is about as energy inefficient as it gets. And it’s only getting worse.
A fall 2010 report by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, ERS, called “Fuel for Food: Energy Use in the U.S. Food System,” found that while energy consumption per capita fell by 1 percent between 2002 and 2007, food-related energy use grew nearly 8 percent, as the food industry relied on more energy-intensive technologies to produce more food for more people.
Between 1997 and 2002, in fact, over 80 percent of the increase in annual U.S. energy consumption was food related.
And estimates for 2007 suggest the U.S. food system accounted for nearly 16 percent of the nation’s total energy budget, up from 14.4 percent in 2002, according to the report, which measured both the direct energy used to power machines and appliances (like trucks and microwave ovens) as well as the “embodied” energy used to manufacture, store and distribute food products.Page 1 of 7 | Next Page