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Martin Murray

Food Waste At Fifty Percent

By January 11, 2013

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Food Waste A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK says that as much as half of the world's food, amounting to two billion tons worth, ends up being discarded. The report highlights a number of reasons for the wastage including poor storage, strict sell-by dates, and changing consumer tastes. Back at the farm, up to thirty percent of produce is not picked as it does not conform to size or appearance standards required by supermarkets, although the produce is perfectly edible.

The report suggests that European countries and the USA were the worst offenders, discarding as much as half of all food. In the developing nations, the issues of food waste are more to do with poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure.

In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimated that a third of all bread purchased is discarded even though it could safely be eaten. Research by the anti-food waste organization Wrap, says 680,000 tons of bakery waste is discarded each year at a cost of £1.1 billion ($1.76 billion).

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January 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm
(1) Mike Sales says:

I am ashamed by the food waste that we created as consumers and companies create by requiring farmers to make food look pretty for us. Farms near us leave produce to rot that is perfectly good, but it either too big or too small for the supermarkets.

January 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm
(2) Terry Hall says:

This should not be!! Too many people needing to be fed! With the bakery’s waste now I see why Hostess went bankrupt!!

January 16, 2013 at 5:27 am
(3) RP Hamilton says:

Why don’t people donate their food to local food banks instead of throwing it in the trash, just because it has three days left on its sell by date. I don’t understand those dates, they seem to be put on there so we are “told” to throw it away and go and buy more food. Consume, consume, consume.

January 16, 2013 at 8:16 am
(4) Paul Crespo says:

One issue that is not talked about here is the problem of food items that go to landfills. The food turns into methane and this is very dangerous. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas over 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. I am sure that landfills are a big contributor to methane emmissions.

January 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm
(5) Don Acerbi says:

I read in the NYT or WSJ that over 50 million Americans do not get enough to eat. When I read articles like this where we throw away fifty percent of our food, it makes me very worried about how our nation is becoming self-centered and all about “me”. I wish we could get rid of all the fluff (celebrities, reality shows, etc) and get back to feeding our own citizens.

January 16, 2013 at 12:45 pm
(6) Mike Lopez says:

As much as it is sad that we discard this vast amount of food, think about all the things that went into getting that food to your kitchen – the water to grow the plants, or the feed for animals, or the electricity and fuel for packaging, storing, and transportation. That is more of a waste than you throwing a half eaten loaf of bread in the trash.

January 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm
(7) Kendra MacDonald says:

I found these ten tips to reduce food waste –

1. Write a list – Menu plan your meals for a week. Check the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards, then write a shopping list for just the extras you need.

2. Stick to the list – Take your list with you and stick to it when you’re in the store. Don’t be tempted by offers and don’t shop when you’re hungry — you’ll come back with more than you need.

3. Keep a healthy fridge – Check that the seals on your fridge are good and check the fridge temperature too. Food needs to be stored between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and longevity.

4. Don’t throw it away – Fruit that is just going soft can be made into smoothies or fruit pies. Vegetables that are starting to wilt can be made into soup.

5. Use up your leftovers – Instead of scraping leftovers into the bin, why not use them for tomorrow’s ingredients? A bit of tuna could be added to pasta and made into a pasta bake. A tablespoon of cooked vegetables can be the base for a crock pot meal.

6. Rotate – When you buy new food from the store, bring all the older items in your cupboards and fridge to the front. Put the new food towards the back and you run less risk of finding something moldy at the back of your food stores.

7. Serve small amounts – Serve small amounts of food with the understanding that everybody can come back for more once they’ve cleared their plate. This is especially helpful for children, who rarely estimate how much they can eat at once. Any leftovers can be cooled, stored in the fridge and used another day.

8. Buy what you need – Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of prepacked, then you can buy exactly the amount you need.

9. Freeze It – If you only eat a small amount of bread, then freeze it when you get home and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them. Likewise, batch cook foods so that you have meals ready for those evenings when you are too tired to cook.

10. Turn it into garden food – Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings?

January 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm
(8) Dina Rogers says:

Here in Austin, the City Council has declared 2013 the Year of Food Waste Prevention and Recovery. This means that the city should follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which involves first decreasing the amount of unused food, and then sending usable food to people and animals in need. Will it happen?????? Well I really hope so.

January 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm
(9) Tony Brandon says:

Food waste is not just an American or European disease, there are problems in developing nations too. In many developing countries, post-harvest losses of food grains can reach as high as 50%. Without proper storage and transportation systems, perishable food items are particularly vulnerable to spoilage and loss.

January 16, 2013 at 10:12 pm
(10) Callan McNeil says:

Here is an interesting fact I found from the EPA – In 2010 alone, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated, with only three percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting – makes me very concerned.

January 17, 2013 at 5:15 am
(11) Robin Stiles says:

How can we help reduce this? I think the food industry has a lot to answer for (especially the supermarkets) but as consumers we need to take responsibility for being a nation that just throws food away just because a printed date says we should. It’s madness.

January 17, 2013 at 7:30 am
(12) Lynn Holden says:

Very upset about this. I can’t believe we (western nations) are so wasteful with our food.

January 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm
(13) Sally Anne Scott says:

I read this on NPR – over half the land area in the U.S. is dedicated to food production, and over 80 percent of the water that we consume goes into producing our food.
I believe if there is ever a severe drought, people will starve to death, as water prices and food prices will soar and people will go hungry.

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