We all have some idea of what we spend on food on a regular basis—or at least, we do when we look at our credit card and bank statements. But if you’ve ever wondered exactly how each of those dollars you’re spending on food breaks down, the USDA has just the tool for you.

The USDA Food Dollar Series is an interactive application that uses data compiled from the USDA Economic Research Service to show food cost breakdowns for all domestically-produced food. Currently, this data breakdown in graphics is available for 1993 to 2012 data, so you can get an idea of how food spending has changed over time.

The graphic above gives a general breakdown of how each food dollar in 2008 was spent. Below, we have an industrial breakdown for general 2012 food dollars:

food dollar industrial breakdown

Digging further into this tool, you can view all sorts of breakdowns based on food, beverages, food and beverages together, or even specific categories of food such as cereals, bakery products, and poultry.

We’re all aware that spending on home food versus food away from home is very different, but it’s interesting to see numbers represented graphically, like this:

food dollar home food and beverage dollar

food dollar away food and beverage dollar

food dollar home food and beverage industrial breakdown

food dollar away food and beverage dollar industrial breakdown

As we’ve noted before, the U.S. spends the lowest percentage of money on food of any country in the world. Since that’s the case, and since food is a necessity of life, it’s possible that thinking about your food dollars this deeply may not even have crossed your mind. If we start thinking about dollars in terms of the food we waste, it’s pretty depressing.

Analyzing data like this can help us identify what’s working and what’s not, as well as the areas where we can improve within our food system. This and other puzzle pieces can be very useful tools in addressing how to rethink feeding the world—starting with our own tables.

[via io9, USDA ERS]