BUSINESS

Rich Countries Trashing Up To Half Of All Food: Report

In this Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 photo, visitors watch as a truck dumps compost materials inside a receiving area at the Cedar
In this Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 photo, visitors watch as a truck dumps compost materials inside a receiving area at the Cedar Grove processing facility in Everett, Wash. The city of Seattle began requiring residents in 2009 to recycle their food scraps along with weekly yard waste pickup and the results have been impressive: in 2010, the city’s contractor kept 90,000 tons of Seattleites’ banana peels, chicken bones and weeds out of landfills and converted that waste into rich compost prized in gardens. But the company processing that green waste has come under fire by citizens and others who complain of a pungent stench emanating from its two facilities located outside of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Even as nearly 1 billion people around the world go hungry, we're wasting a staggering amount of food.

People in developed countries throw away 30 to 50 percent of the food they purchase, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In total, the researchers estimated, 1.2 to 2 billion tons of food is thrown out every year without reaching a human stomach.

A major reason we're tossing our food is that stores push us to buy too much of it, the report found. Additionally, supermarkets often reject shipments of vegetables and fruits that don't meet their marketing standards. As a result, 30 to 50 percent of food produced on the planet is discarded as useless, even if some of it is perfectly edible.

Similar studies have reached the same conclusion. Americans throw away about 40 percent of all food they purchase, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released in August. Cutting U.S. food waste by just 15 percent would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans every year. About 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The amount of food that Americans waste has spiked as portion sizes have grown, according to Dana Gunders, a scientist at NRDC.

There are environmental consequences too. Nearly all food waste in the U.S. ends up in landfills or incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Hat tip: The Guardian.)

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