In this work we estimate the amount of energy required to produce the food consumed in the United States in 2002 and 2007. Data from government sources and the scientific literature were used to calculate the energy intensity of food production from agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, food sales, storage and preparation. Most data were from 2002; consequently we scaled all data from other years to 2002 by using ratios of total energy consumption in 2002 to total energy consumption in the year data were reported. We concluded that food production required at least 7,880±733 trillion BTU in 2002 and 8,080±752 trillion BTU of energy in 2007, over a third of which came from food handling in homes, restaurants and grocery stores. The energy used to produce food represents approximately 8% of energy consumption. Our estimate is for the energy required to produce the food consumed in the United States and takes into account food imports and exports. To account for net food exports in the agriculture sector we calculated values for the energy intensity of ten food categories and then used the mass of domestic food consumption in each category to calculate the energy embedded in the food consumed in the United States. The amount of energy required to produce the food consumed in the United States has policy implications because it is a substantial fraction of total energy consumption and is responsible for a commensurate amount of greenhouse gas emissions. There are many opportunities for decreasing the energy intensity of food production at all steps of the food system. Education of the public and policy measures that promote energy efficiency in the food sector have the potential for decreasing food waste and the energy intensity of the food system.
- Advanced Energy Systems Division and Solar Energy Division
An Updated Estimate for Energy Use in U.S. Food Production and Policy Implications
Cuellar, AD, & Webber, ME. "An Updated Estimate for Energy Use in U.S. Food Production and Policy Implications." Proceedings of the ASME 2010 4th International Conference on Energy Sustainability. ASME 2010 4th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, Volume 1. Phoenix, Arizona, USA. May 17–22, 2010. pp. 35-44. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ES2010-90179
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