Waste Not, Want Not

Did you know about one-third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste? This information came from a study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, according to the BBC, which claims “that amounts to more than one billion tonnes of waste around the world every year.”

That’s outrageous! Much of the wasted food is from industrialized countries, which simply throw it away. Fruit and vegetables go to waste more than other types of food.

The study was conducted by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology. According to the BBC, key findings reveal that “consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food, 222 million tonnes, as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.”

The report, entitled Global Food Losses and Food Waste, distinguishes between food loss and food waste: Losses happen during the production, processing and distribution of food, and affect developing countries worst. Waste is a problem in industrialized countries where retailers and consumers throw away perfectly edible food, which is why dumpster diving is a popular activity.

The total waste per consumer amounts to around 200 pounds a year in Europe and North America.

Why so much waste? The study claims that large quantities of fresh food is wasted “because of the way it looks.” But the researchers claim that consumers are “willing to buy produce that looks imperfect, as long as it is safe and tastes good.”

With food prices at an all-time high, we can’t afford to be wasting so much. I think we need to lower our standards for perfect-looking food. Even better, buy from your local farmer instead of the grocery store, and freeze or can produce while it’s fresh to use later.

Somehow, we need to feed 7 billion people in the near future.


2 responses to “Waste Not, Want Not

  1. I just read an article in Urban Farm magazine about how an organization in San Francisco is working on collecting scraps from local restaurants. They are putting the scraps in biodigesters and generating electricity from the methane generated when the food decomposes. They are currently powering some crazy amount of homes and will soon start selling the power to the local power company. I love that idea! Where do I sign up?

    • Interesting! San Francisco is always so progressive. I read in “GOOD” yesterday that, in addition to banning plastic bags, they are considering banning phone books since so many people don’t use them anymore. What a great idea to use food waste for energy! Thanks for your comment, John!

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