A third of all food that's produced in the world is thrown away. And most of it isn't inedible!
This is an issue I've been aware of for a long time, but I was very impressed by this article I read today in The Ecologist, which explores how the fact that most of us are in such a rush these days contributes to increasing food waste. The article focuses on a large supermarket with lots of customers and rushed staff, where there are a high number of incidents in which food gets misplaced or damaged meaning it has to be trhown away. The author then goes on to compare this with a small ethically run supermarket. At the end there are notes on a small selection of projects offering creative solutions to the extent of food waste. It's a very thought provoking article.
We're lucky to live on good bus routes to the ethical food shops in Edinburgh and we have a small supermarket across the road for when we need things in a hurry. So we don't need to stock up on fruit and vegetables so we rarely waste food. Edinburgh recently brought in food recycling bins, so that waste such as vegetable peels and apple cores are composted - the system isn't perfect (as was particularly brought home to me on the recent occasion when I saw a huge lorry with 'composing Edinburgh's food waste' emblazoned on its side trundling down a main road, goodness knows how far our food has to go to get recycled!) but it's a great start for those of us who don't have gardens where we can build compost piles of our own.
But most food waste isn't the result of people forgetting about fruit and beg in their own homes (though that isn't insignificant) it's about a system that means that fruit and vegetables that don't pass a 'beauty contest' are rejected by most retailers, where more produce is brought into the shop than can get sold and where loads of food gets wasted in the journey from field to warehouse to distribution centre to retail outlet).