Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Dinner, Thanksgiving, and Leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I love Thanksgiving as it is truly all American. This blog will be short and will analyze the leftover turkey parts that are thrown out about a week after the fourth Thursday in the month of November.

This from the Los Angeles Times

By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

November 20, 2012

Americans will buy 581 million pounds of turkey meat for Thanksgiving this year but will trash more than a third of it, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Some 204 million pounds of meat will end up in the garbage after the holiday feast, according to an NRDC blog post.

The waste is especially appalling given that the resources required — including feed, water and transportation — to produce each pound of turkey are equivalent to fuel enough to drive a car 11 miles and take a 130-minute shower.

Overall, that equates to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco and enough water to supply New York City for more than 100 days.

Over the full year, Americans chuck out $165 billion in uneaten food, according to the NRDC.

And turkey prices are not getting any cheaper. They are up 7% from a year ago, pushed by the severe summer drought, according to a report on food site Allrecipes.com.

Consumers are now trying to find work-arounds, with two-thirds saying they will buy Thanksgiving ingredients on sale, according to Allrecipes. Nearly half plan to use a coupon or shop around at multiple outlets.

Some consumers, though, are going in the opposite direction — they're planning to go for premium options such as heritage turkeys. These birds are more similar to the wild turkeys eaten during the original Thanksgiving festivities than today's domestic, farm-raised varieties, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph, compared with the 23.35 mph averaged by Jamaican sprinterUsain Bolt, widely considered to be the fastest human alive. The fowl rarely exceed 24 pounds, while bred turkeys can surpass 40 pounds. Their gobbles can be heard up to a mile away.


Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

OK 204 million pounds of wasted turkey. Let’s assume 30% is bone and 15% is moisture we have 112.2 million pounds of wasted protein and fat. For the sake of analysis let’s assume the protein and fat averages 6 food calories per gram. Doing the tedious math of converting grams to pounds and food calories to BTUS we get that 1.205 million million BTUs of food (chemical) energy winds up in the trash. A gallon of gasoline has 115,000 BTUs. Therefore the discarded turkey after thanksgiving had the chemical energy equal to 10.5 million gallons of gasoline. Assuming 100 million households bought turkeys this means each household wasted one tenth of a gallon of gasoline worth of chemical energy by not eating the remaining turkey. After a week of eating turkey leftovers I am sure there are some among us who would prefer to drink 12.8 fluid ounces of gasoline rather than swallowing another bite of turkey.

Again Happy Thanksgiving

The Green Machine


  1. All this waste. Shameful. Brits aren't doing much better, either.


    I rather like the Feeding 5K's gleaning idea, Gleaning Network UK. I could only locate a couple of these networks in the USA.

  2. Kimm I looked at the link. Really interesting. Planting trees on the land equal to the wasted food plus surplus will sop up the fossil fuel CO2. Let's say we can save 1/3 of the crop land on the planet which is say an area equal to about 1.5 USAs This is 6 million square miles or about 4 billion acres. Each acre of forest takes up about 10 tons a year of CO2. So yes this is 40 billion tons of CO2 wow let's not waste food and we can drive our cars without nonsense like the Tesla or Leaf.