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."
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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