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So exactly how much food DO we throw away?

Page-Page- Registered User regular
According to this BBC story I just read, a whole hell of a lot.
Half of all food 'thrown away' claims report

Wasted food in a bin The report said half the food bought in Europe and the US ended up in the bin

As much as half of the world's food, amounting to two billion tonnes worth, ends up being thrown away, a UK-based report has claimed.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said the waste was being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness.

The study also found that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance.

The institution's Dr Tim Fox said the level of waste was "staggering".

'Waste of resources'

The report said that between 30% and 50% of the four billion tonnes of food produced around the world each year went to waste.

It suggested that half the food bought in Europe and the US was thrown away.

Dr Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: "The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world's growing population - as well as those in hunger today.

"It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food.

"The reasons for this situation range from poor engineering and agricultural practices, inadequate transport and storage infrastructure through to supermarkets demanding cosmetically perfect foodstuffs and encouraging consumers to overbuy through buy-one-get-one-free offers."

And he told the BBC's Today programme: "If you're in the developing world, then the losses are in the early part of the food supply chain, so between the field and the marketplace.

"In the mature, developed economies the waste is really down to poor marketing practices and consumer behaviour."

Population growth

The report - Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not - also found that huge amounts of water, totalling 550 billion cubic metres, were being used to grow crops that were never eaten.

The institution said the demand for water for food production could reach 10 to 13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050.

The United Nations predicts there will be an extra three billion mouths to feed by 2075 as the global population swells to 9.5 billion.

Dr Fox added: "As water, land and energy resources come under increasing pressure from competing human demands, engineers have a crucial role to play in preventing food loss and waste by developing more efficient ways of growing, transporting and storing foods.

"But in order for this to happen governments, development agencies and organisation like the UN must work together to help change people's mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers."

Even though I suspected, and I'm sure many people also suspected, that's still ridiculous.

A couple years ago I was doing night shift duty at a chocolate factory--one of the major candy companies--and that's when I got my first taste of how wasteful things could really be.

I was moved around from night to night, since it was temp work and they just stuck me in where I was needed, so I got to see the process from beginning to end. The amount of shit that got tossed was immense. I could totally understand that defective candy was swept up into huge bins (that, thankfully, were then sold off to pig farmers or something), but there was this factory wide policy that any candy that hit the floor was garbage. That meant that already wrapped candy that fell off the conveyor belt (and that happened a lot) was trashed. I'm talking hundreds and hundreds of 100% fully functional, wrapped bars. Of course, employees were free to eat them on breaks, which nobody did because after working there for a few hours hardly anyone wanted anything to do with chocolate, but it had to be on premises. Since you weren't allowed to bring them home, and since nobody there wanted to eat them, that was large garbage bins full of perfectly good candy being thrown out, and that was just from one shift in one section. I can understand how such policies came into place, but godamn did it bug me while I was there.

So the idea that farmers throw out tons of fruits and vegetables just because they look a little funny wasn't that far off, and I know sometimes that lettuce I bought rots away before I get a chance to use it. It's kind of disturbing.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    We've thrown out food because we didn't get to it soon enough more than I like to admit. Hopefully new expenses and budget will force us to be more responsible with what we buy. Couple with the fact that we're by a Trader Joes again where we both actively enjoy shopping and I think I'm going to try and move from grocery shopping every week to doing it every other day or so.

  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2013
    I find that when we buy fresh food and cook it that day we do well, but when we do the big grocery shopping every week or two, a lot of food goes to waste, especially fruits and vegetables, which seem to go bad so very fast. Part of it is that my wife is very strict about sell by dates. Even if something like bread is still fine, once we hit the sell by date she won't touch it.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    I find that when we buy fresh food and cook it that day we do well, but when we do the big grocery shopping every week or two, a lot of food goes to waste, especially fruits and vegetables, which seem to go bad so very fast. Part of it is that my wife is very strict about sell by dates. Even if something like bread is still fine, once we hit the sell by date she won't touch it.

    that's kind of silly, it doesn't turn into a rotten pumpkin at midnight

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  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    Yeah, I'm willing to be less strict about sell by dates, but my GF isn't. We buy in small quantities though, and don't really have too much that goes to waste. We'd have even less if we could walk to the store instead of drive/bike.

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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    That's actually the reason sell-by dates are put on a lot of items, or are put on the date they are. They don't really go bad that fast, but if people believe that, they'll throw it out and buy more stuff. There are a few exceptions like with some very specific types of medication, but at those times they're very clear that you should absolutely not use this anymore after this date. And a sell-by date isn't an expiration for the item itself, just to not sell it in the store.

    Speaking of expiration dates on medications, dry pills like Advil and so forth don't actually go bad on the date listed. They'll still be good for about 10 years.

  • Dark Raven XDark Raven X Laugh hard, run fast, be kindRegistered User regular
    I always figured the use by date was so early so as to avoid potential poisonings. :P

    I think I'm pretty good about not wasting food. The exception to that is milk - I'm real bad about drinking the whole thing before it expires, but if I get a smaller bottle it won't last very long and aaa.

    The only thing I've thrown out since New Years was a rancid onion. Like, as I sliced it upon getting it home it's innards poured out in a purulent mess, so that felt like a pretty justified toss.

    Oh brilliant
  • DanWeinoDanWeino Registered User regular
    Must be GF thing. Mine won't touch anything a day past the date. With dairy stuff I usually stick to dates, but otherwise I'll give it a look over and a smell.


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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    I find that when we buy fresh food and cook it that day we do well, but when we do the big grocery shopping every week or two, a lot of food goes to waste, especially fruits and vegetables, which seem to go bad so very fast. Part of it is that my wife is very strict about sell by dates. Even if something like bread is still fine, once we hit the sell by date she won't touch it.

    that's kind of silly, it doesn't turn into a rotten pumpkin at midnight

    And it's a frigging sell by date. It still is absolutely perfectly fine to consume with absolutely no degradation for another week or two. Like sell by date is when the store can still sell it, and the average user will have time to consume it before it starts to approach going bad.


    Having had bad experiences with past due milk, I am totally and nonsensically anal about this as well.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    milk is pretty easy to tell when it's bad

    just follow your nose

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    I waste a hell of a lot being social,single and earning ok money. I buy nice stuff but don't particularly plan my meals far ahead and often my plans change at last minute, so I end up wasting a lot.

    It bugs me a lot but I haven't addressed the issue in any meaningful way

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  • TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    I think I'm pretty good about food waste. I always take leftovers home if there are any when I go out to eat, I try not to buy more produce than I will be able to use, and I compost anything that does go bad. Boggles my mind that people don't compost and then go spend money on fertilizer for their flower gardens.

    I have a friend that will take scraps of still-edible veggies (like the odd ends of carrots and peppers) when she's cooking and throw them in a zip-loc that goes in the freezer. When it's full, she uses it to make broth for soups.

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  • saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    We're battling this right now at our house. I tend to buy a lot of meat at a time, re-portion when we get home, and freeze in the chest freezer. But stuff like bread, veggies and fruit are more difficult to avoid. My wife is on a huge health food kick, so she buys a lot of the veggies/fruits/yogurts/dips, but we don't use it up in time and it ends up going bad. We have a purge of the fridge every 2-3months of all the old stuff, and it's kinda depressing.

    We need to do better with this.

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  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    We're pretty good at not throwing out food. We don't worry about sell-by dates on most things, and go by the condition / smell. About the only thing we're really strict on is deli meat...usually we separate and freeze it, but occasionally we won't and will end up throwing some away when it starts getting iffy in three or four days.

    Most of the time, if we throw something away it's leftovers that have been in the fridge and aren't ever going to get eaten, or something that has just gone bad.

    While the food process is pretty wasteful at points, I think articles like this really overstate the problem. I don't see how individuals could waste half of the food they buy unless you start counting things like throwing away apple cores, top / bottom slices of a tomato, bones / leftover gristle, etc as 'wasting' food.

    It's also important to note that most of that food that's thrown away (at the farm level) isn't really wasted. It's almost always re-purposed. It can be used to make derivative products (gelatin, juices / cider, etc), used as feed for other animals, used as biomass for alternative fuel, or just composted and reused as fertilizer in the fields. Harvesting that food and moving it to the market generally is just a waste of energy and results in more waste on the consumer end.

    The problems with people starving in 3rd world countries has almost nothing to do with waste / production in the 1st world. There is more than enough food available, the problem is one of distribution and politics. A container of 'Second Harvest' tomatoes isn't going to last the month it takes to get to the starving people in Somolia.

    spool32
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    We keep our fridge pretty empty. At any given time it most has things like salad dressings and drinks, some cheeses that keep for a while, and whatever we bought in the last couple of days for meals.

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Careful planning and a willingness to be creative can fix this, but you really need to spend some time in the kitchen and have a set of soups / stews in your head ready to make with whatever random things are in your fridge. Right now, we throw out very little... but in the past we've been terrible about it. I always get a great feeling of satisfaction when I use the very last of something, just from knowing none of it got wasted.

    At the very least, veggies that are going limp can be roasted and turned into stock. You can pour the reduced stock into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then take out a cube for a hit of extra flavor when you're cooking at a later date.

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  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    Yeah, everyone throws away a lot of food. I work at Trader Joe's, and things just go bad sometimes. Obviously, we donate the stuff that's still edible but past the sell by date, but still. Sometimes stuff just goes bad.

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  • DelzhandDelzhand Venitah, Satariel! Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Careful planning and a willingness to be creative can fix this, but you really need to spend some time in the kitchen and have a set of soups / stews in your head ready to make with whatever random things are in your fridge. Right now, we throw out very little... but in the past we've been terrible about it. I always get a great feeling of satisfaction when I use the very last of something, just from knowing none of it got wasted.

    At the very least, veggies that are going limp can be roasted and turned into stock. You can pour the reduced stock into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then take out a cube for a hit of extra flavor when you're cooking at a later date.

    oh man this is a pretty good idea

    lord knows I've seen some soggy zucchinis and squashes in my time.

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  • DiannaoChongDiannaoChong Registered User regular
    I probably waste alot more then I should. I have to use the sell by date on alot of products because I cant smell the little differences that occour between good and "starting togo bad, dont use". I just dont buy milk anymore, avoid and rarely use it because it always smells sour to me, unless it is way far gone I cant tell if its gone bad until I taste.

    However on vegtables and fruits this is different as it has forced me to learn how and when it will go bad since theres no dates. Squeeze/hollow/blemishes etc make it pretty easy to tell on alot of food. We probably need more education on identifying good vs spoiled food, and teaching people to use what is left right as it is going bad instead of waiting too long/just trashing it.

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  • DelzhandDelzhand Venitah, Satariel! Registered User regular
    Milk is really weird because unless you've just opened it, it always "smells bad" to me.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    My family actually doesn't throw out all that much food really. At the moment we're battling to stop losing it to birds and caterpillars in the garden (and damn it, I want my lemon tree! Not 50,000 chilli's).

    EDIT: One thing to note though is that people throwing out food has pretty much nothing to do with global hunger and famine though. There's always been more then enough food to go around, it's distribution and protecting economies that's always been the sticking point.

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  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    I only throw away food when it smells or tastes off, or has obviously gone bad(mold on bread etc.). Otherwise I'll just happily eat whatever. Haven't died yet.
    This is mostly because I have no car and getting groceries can be a pain, so I don't want to just throw away stuff I've paid money for and carried home, if it's still edible.

    "Best Before" dates are at best suggestions, most food is usually good for a time after. Sometimes for a fairly long time.

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  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    The tbloxham guide to identifying food you shouldn't eat!

    Does it smell bad? If so, then it's bad. If its a veggie, is it too squishy to peel? If so then it's bad.

    Use by dates have NOTHING to do with safety of consumption. Not one single thing. They are decided on by people tasting samples of the food which has been stored properly and rating it. When the average rating of the group falls below the target level of the manufacturer then the use by date is labelled. Most companies use ~90% of the initial rating. So, if you throw out something on the use by date, you have thrown out food simply because it was 10% less tasty than at it's date of manufacture.

    I can believe that our food chain throws out 50% of food (of which a large part occurs in farm or factory and is reused for animal feed) but I can't believe people throw out 50% of their food. As earlier people said, unless we are counting peels, seeds, cores, and bones and even then I doubt we get close. Fridges and freezers keep food edible for weeks! Yes veggies can go bad (espescially if the seal on your crisper isn't good) but do people really buy say, salad greens, and expect to use them in 7 days time or something?

    And, as spool32 said, almost ALL marginal food can be made into stock or soups. Roast up those slightly limp carrots and unhappy looking squashes together, fry off that freezer burned meat and then cook them up all together in a big pot on low heat for a few hours. Cooking properly heals a GREAT deal of sins, it's only when you plan to eat things raw, steamed, or quickly seared that vegetables have to be perfect, meat has to be totally not freezer burned and so on.

    For example, the problem with freezer burned meat is that large ice crystals have formed and water has been lost. This means that the cells in the meat have been damaged and can't hold liquid, and that the meat itself has lost its tenderness. If you defrost the meat and then sear it (lets say its a steak) then the flavorful juices will just ooze out and the already dry meat will be flavourless and tough. However, in a slow cooked stew this is of no concern. You WANT the flavor to come out of the meat and into the liquid, so the freezer burn doesn't affect the flavor.

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  • PopeCricketPopeCricket AustinRegistered User new member
    From the perspective of a single household, a lot. Sometimes we grab a particular item on an impulse buy, only to have said item rot away on a shelf in the kitchen. Three weeks later we come across a phenomenal recipe that includes the item, only to discover that the item is now a mush of plant matter attracting fruit flies. So we throw it out and rush to the store to buy a new one.

    Then there's the food left over from meal time. We have a 12 year old daughter going through all the usual pre-teen unpleasantness. She alone probably accounts for half the food either thrown out or slipped to the dogs.

    So, if we were to extrapolate across the U.S., using my home as standard metric, the answer is "A heck of a lot".

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    From the perspective of a single household, a lot. Sometimes we grab a particular item on an impulse buy, only to have said item rot away on a shelf in the kitchen. Three weeks later we come across a phenomenal recipe that includes the item, only to discover that the item is now a mush of plant matter attracting fruit flies. So we throw it out and rush to the store to buy a new one.

    Then there's the food left over from meal time. We have a 12 year old daughter going through all the usual pre-teen unpleasantness. She alone probably accounts for half the food either thrown out or slipped to the dogs.

    So, if we were to extrapolate across the U.S., using my home as standard metric, the answer is "A heck of a lot".

    But if food is left over from meal time, why not have it become lunch food for the next day? Or, if you have problems with things going bad why don't you just check your fridge the day before you go to the grocery store. If you have vegetables or perishables left, use them up in a recipe. Freeze the results if you don't want it right away.

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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    I was pretty bad at throwing out food in college, but living overseas for a year where I could walk to the store every day helped train me to only buy things I know I'm going to eat and forced dieting and thriftiness since my return to the US has taught me how to buy food that lasts and forces me to cook and it all in a timely manner.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Yeah, we can individually take measures to reduce household waste, but that doesn't reduce waste at the source or at the point of sale.

    My gut reaction is that composting and urban farming can help.

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    Based on stories like the one in the OP and anecdotes from you folks and others, it seems the vast majority of this problem is with the mentality of consumers. Which makes this hard to address.

    Yeah, it's ridiculous that packaging or manufacturing plants will throw out perfectly good food that just looks funny... but that stuff just won't sell. If people won't buy a slightly-weird looking zucchini or a slightly-dented candy bar, sticking it on the shelves is just a waste of time and money.

    And even much of the consumer distaste is understandable. Really, if you see two tomatoes, and one is perfectly shaped and one looks like someone hit it with a brick, you're going to pick the good-looking one every time. And so the perfectly-fine-but-weird-looking tomato will sit in the bin until it's actually rotten, at which point it gets tossed.

    I guess we can work on buying and cooking smaller quantities to reduce waste, and be more dedicated to keeping leftovers, and encourage smaller portions served in restaurants, but now we're into awareness-campaign territory, and those are of limited utility.

    It's easy to change your own habits - and I'm pretty good about this - but the problem is that it occurs on a massive scale, and I don't know what can reasonably be done.

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  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    I think there are a lot of problems that would be prevented by requiring every kid in America to take a mandatory 'Home Economics' class in High School. This is just one of them.

    There are a lot of people who simply don't understand how to plan a week's meals or even keep a grocery list. Hell, keeping a grocery list and generally sticking to it reduces a LOT of waste all on it's own. You aren't just buying stuff that's on sale not knowing what you'll use it with, or ending up with two things of whatever because you want to make tacos and can't remember if you have sour cream or not.

    When I was single I didn't keep much food at all around my apartment, and would stop at the grocery store on my way home to buy ingredients if I wanted to make something. Now though, the ten-fifteen minutes minimum it takes to stop on the way home, get my daughter out of the car, pick out and buy stuff, and get home and make it is just a major hassle. It's much easier to buy everything all at once, weekly. I would guess this is a bit of a symptom of our American 'hypermart' grocery stores, since it's a pain to run in for just one or two items.

    Of course, the smaller stores are so much more expensive that you can often literally get the larger size item for the same price at the hypermart which compounds the problem. It irks me every time I need to stop at a smaller grocery store to pick up just one or two items.

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    Speaking of expiration dates on medications, dry pills like Advil and so forth don't actually go bad on the date listed. They'll still be good for about 10 years.
    Kinda sorta not really. Unless it says otherwise, like, 'if taken after xx/xx/xxxx this shit will kill you,' the expiration date listed on medical packaging is when the contents have degraded to the point of 50% effectiveness or strength. So if you've got a bottle of aspirin years and years past its expiration date, they should still work, but you'd need to take an unknown amount of them to get the expected effect.

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  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    I think my question would be whether this 'half the food bought ends up in the bin' statement is true. I can believe that our food delivery system is only 50% efficient, and only 1/2 the weight of food which is grown for humans is actually eaten by humans but I can't believe that on average the American household throws away 50% of the food it buys.

    Yes, it's hard to pick out the right number of tomatoes or to always use up the last few celery sticks or to pack meat perfectly but 50% is insane. Thats just plain idiotic. I don't think that 50% of the food bought in the US is even perishable on a <1 year timescale! (frozen pizzas, microwave dinners, etc)

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    I find that when we buy fresh food and cook it that day we do well, but when we do the big grocery shopping every week or two, a lot of food goes to waste, especially fruits and vegetables, which seem to go bad so very fast.

    I agree with this and think it's one of the big things. Less trips require more planning, more strict adherence to the plan and just generally more remembering what you actually have in the fridge/freezer, which is not easy. If you are just going "buy->cook" it's alot easier because you buy for the specific recipe you are gonna do that day.

    The problems are:
    1) shopping more often is really inefficient. Especially if you aren't in any sort of heavily urbanized area where the grocery store isn't right close to where you live or work.
    2) shopping more often is more expensive. Going bulk can save lots of money as long as you use all of it. Or, shit, most of it. If the bulk is on sale enough, you can throw out 1/4 of it and still save money.

  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Do a lot of people do the weekly plan thing? At most we plan meals for 2 or 3 days (one of which will be left overs). Of course, we also go out to eat way too often. . .

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  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    Do a lot of people do the weekly plan thing? At most we plan meals for 2 or 3 days (one of which will be left overs). Of course, we also go out to eat way too often. . .

    Pretty much. I live in a small condo and storage is at a premium. I would love a garden beyond my window sill. It's probably easier to plan things out when you see it growing and getting ripe everyday as opposed to (in my case) looking in Allrecipes or whatever and then buying two or three real meals.

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  • StericaSterica Wow! That was shit.Registered User, Moderator mod
    I once threw away a literal ton of bananas when working at Walmart. In one day.

    Part of it was politics, and the guy in charge of the area would be a dick with our orders so no other store would get too close to outshining his store. This meant ridiculous shit like getting in, again, literal tons of food in preparation for Thanksiving...on November 1st. Logically, you'd expect to get a constant flow of food over the month, but instead we had a lump mass of shit the second the season began. SHOCKINGINGLY, we had to throw away maybe a year's supply of sweet potatoes.

    This happens every year, and while some of it is local work politics, I'm sure a good chunk is also stupidity and over-reliance on automated order systems. July 4th? Let's get literally 15 bins of watermelon in two days. I threw away hundreds of rotting melons every summer. The producers are every bit, if not more, culpable in this.

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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Do a lot of people do the weekly plan thing? At most we plan meals for 2 or 3 days (one of which will be left overs). Of course, we also go out to eat way too often. . .

    I don't really know a way to effectively shop on a budget without doing something approaching the weekly plan thing. Then there is the whole issue of children, which would tend to do things to the incremental costs of shopping excursions and encourage getting everything at once(which is even more of a thing the more rural you get).

    I'm not sure what population your question targets, but it is extremely common, but likely less so on a forum of young, urban-ish non-parents with a higher than average amount of disposable income.

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  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Do a lot of people do the weekly plan thing? At most we plan meals for 2 or 3 days (one of which will be left overs). Of course, we also go out to eat way too often. . .

    Weekly plan implies more structure..it's not that complicated.

    We shop weekly, and normally keep stocked up on our staples...milk, eggs, cheese, bread, sandwich stuff, etc. If we run low / out of something, we add it to the list. Rarely will we actually pick something up during the week, if we run out we'll just work around it unless it's like a Tuesday and we are out of milk.

    When we shop we usually come up with one or two involved meals that we would like in the next week or two, and pick up the ingredients to have that. Sometimes we come up with something from a recipe, sometimes we come up with it when we are at the store and see something on sale.

    Otherwise, we can usually come up with at least 20-30 different dinner ideas between what's in our pantry and our deep freeze, so we work from there. There's also always breakfast for dinner to fall back on.

    EDIT - and yes, kids complicate things. It makes everything take longer...stopping at the store as well as getting out of work / getting home / getting dinner started. It also makes more of a deadline for getting food on the table...kids aren't as good at waiting on food as adults when they start getting hungry, and go to bed earlier so there is no way around feeding them sooner.

    zagdrob on
    DivideByZero
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Important Note from the Same Article:
    Food waste is a subject that people get very incensed about. But this report, while re-iterating the scale of the problem, doesn't really advance the story.

    The Institution of Mechanical Engineers review draws heavily on work carried out over a number of years for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of UN. However one expert in the field suggested that there was no absolutely reliable global data on the level of waste.

    One of the boldest claims in the report is that "30% of the UK vegetable crop is never harvested."

    It suggests that farmers are leaving vegetables in the ground because they don't meet the supermarket standards required. The research on which that claim is based is from 2008 and only looks at potatoes. It concludes that 6% is lost at field level while 22% is either thrown away or diverted to other markets during processing.

    The headline claim that up to 50% of all food is thrown away really depends on your definitions, one researcher told me. At least a difference should be made between food losses and food waste.

    Enc on
  • gavindelgavindel The reason all your software is brokenRegistered User regular
    After working plenty of fast food and retail, I've seen the staggering amounts of waste from the business side. As @Rorus Raz said above, Walmart pitches literal pallets of goods on a daily basis, often for no better reason than poor inventory practice. Working at a Texas BBQ shack, we'd fill a dumpster every other day with just the gunky bits of fried chicken (produced by hamming as much as possible into the fryer constantly).

    Combine that with consumer expectations of what food "looks" like (which are basically 100% based on commercials for anyone who hasn't worked on a farm), and you have one hell of a lot of waste.

    The hard part is turning this around. The farmers, the suppliers, the stores, and the consumers are all chipping in on the process for their own particular benefit. For every environmentally conscious compost heap, there's ten of my roommate cooking a pound of beef, eating a third, and letting the rest rot.


  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    A good point on this, many oranges you get at a store are artificially dyed with a known carcinogen to make them more appealing. They are allowed to do so because you "don't eat the peel".

    So make sure you know your fruit if you happen to use orange zest in anything.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    A good point on this, many oranges you get at a store are artificially dyed with a known carcinogen to make them more appealing. They are allowed to do so because you "don't eat the peel".

    So make sure you know your fruit if you happen to use orange zest in anything.

    Okay, that seems horrifying.

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