Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wasting Resources

 Once again SOYMB directs attention to the food problem

Each year, 22 million tonnes of food is wasted in the European Union, according to a new study, of which 80 per cent is avoidable. Globally, a third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, “Reducing waste and getting the best use out of what we produce makes far more sense than trying to increase food production by about 60 percent from what it was in 2005, which is what it would take to feed that many people. Producing more food through agriculture has consequences for the environment. At the moment we are taking more out than we’re putting back in. It’s not sustainable and we’re losing arable land.” 

Britain wastes more food than any other country in Europe, with UK households throwing away 13lbs of food weekly, it can be revealed. For every one of the UK’s 64 million citizens, the equivalent of a tin of baked beans is thrown away every day. British households have been found to squander £12 billion on avoidable waste every year - the equivalent of £480 per household.

2 million tonnes of food is wasted by consumers preparing too much.
3 million tonnes is thrown away when it passes its sell by date.

A large proportion of the food was found to be vegetables, fruit, and cereals, partly due to their short shelf-life. Apples are now tossed away routinely with 40 per cent never eaten. And barely half of all bakery products end up in our stomachs. Of all the bagged salads produced in this country, 68 per cent are never consumed.

Wasted meat was found to have a far greater environmental impact the fruit and vegetable waste.
“Meat production uses much more resources in the first place, so even a little bit of waste can have a big effect in terms of lost resources,” said lead scientist Dr Davy Vanham, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Of all food destined for Tesco customers’, 32 per cent is wasted, it calculated. But of that 32 per cent, about 16 percentage points is wasted either at the farm itself or during the packing and processing stage, and about 16 points is wasted by UK households themselves.

 Last month, a report by Global Food Security found that up to 40 per cent of some farmers’ crops never made it to store because of how the supermarkets order their food, insisting on overproduction in case of a bad harvest or a surge in consumer demand, as well as demanding certain standards. This is the infamous “ugly fruit and veg” phenomenon, whereby supermarkets refuse to stock wonky carrots, undersized apples or knobbly potatoes, even though they taste just as good. Take carrots: for them to be grade one and stocked by most supermarkets, they need to be larger than 25mm in diameter and smaller than 45mm in diameter. While some of these standards are set by Defra, most are set by the retailers themselves. 

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