According to Mother Nature Network (MNN), in 2010 the average American was 36.6 years old and eats 1,996.3 pounds of food per year. Of interest, you can reference the latest US Census Bureau data and discover there are about 305 million Americans. Essentially, these facts stack up to an annual food consumption of about 609 billion pounds. Even more interesting, The Society of St. Andrew reports that about 40% of the food produced in the United States is wasted. This means that America wastes about 244 billion pounds of food per year. But how bad is this, really?
As many know, the Sigma scale of measure tells us how good something is. The more Sigma’s the better. For example, airline baggage handling is about 4 Sigma, but the airline flight fatality rate is about 6 Sigma. This means that the next time you get on an airplane, you are about 1,800 times more likely to reach your destination when compared to your baggage.
Perhaps this may be little scary, but doctor prescription writing is only about 4 Sigma, as is the accuracy of your next restaurant bill. A real shocker is ICU care. You might think it would be really good, but its only about 3.5 Sigma. On the other end of the stick, we should note that the likelihood of a celebrity marriage lasting for 30 years is about 2 Sigma, as is IRS phone-in tax advice and depression misdiagnosis. So, we know from 30 years of collecting data, world-class performance is around 6 Sigma, average is about 4 Sigma and 2 Sigma is horrid. But hold your seat, the worst is yet to come.
Let’s now get back to our nation’s problem concerning the waste of food. Given the facts, America is about 2 Sigma when it comes to making good use of our food supply. However, according to Chelsea Green Publishing, about 95 percent of the water entering our homes goes down the drain. As you may have guessed, this is about Zero Sigma. According to several sources, America’s economic waste is around 32%, or about 2 Sigma. So it would really seem that our government controls it’s spending about as much as we value our food and water supply.
In the final analysis, it would seem that measuring the scope and depth of the problem is one thing, but quite another to fix it. Then again, wanting to fix something is really hard when you’re tummy is full, clean water is on tap and there’s some decent money in your pocket. In the big scheme of things, the bell curve applies and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Need prevails.
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