Food waste statistics

Growing up, we were often encouraged to eat all our food as there were thousands of starving children elsewhere who would appreciate what was put in front of us. For most children, probably the bigger threat was the lack of dessert if we didn’t eat our vegetables.

It seems these well intentioned exhortations have had little effect. Food waste is now on a scale that is absolutely mind-boggling.

It’s often argued that we don’t face a food production crisis – we just have food distribution and waste issues. With those resolved, the world could easily be fed at current production rates. According to an article on Next Generation Food, food wasted in the US and Europe could easily bring the remainder of the world where food is scarce up to basic nutritional requirements!

The Next Generation Food article has other interesting if not shameful statistics on food waste, including:

  • In the US, food waste has increased by 50 percent since 1974
  • 40 percent of all the food produced in the US is thrown out
  • Food waste accounts for more than a quarter of freshwater consumption and 300 million barrels of annually.
  • Food is the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste
  • 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK annually
  • In the UK, city dwellers generally waste the most food, with the worst culprits being single men, aged between 25 and 35

Food waste doesn’t necessarily mean something is thrown away. Eating more than our bodies need could be considered a form of food waste too and it doesn’t also mean we always get fat as a result. Up until my mid-20’s, I could slam down far more calories than I needed on an ongoing basis and not put on an ounce. Thankfully (from a green perspective anyway) my body no longer does that. I’m looking at a cookie now and I swear it’s already being added to my waistline pre-emptively :).

The positive side to all these frightening statistics is that we can make an individual effort to help rectify the issue – pick up some tips and ways to reduce food waste.