What a waste: UN reports that one third of the world’s food becomes garbage

What a waste: UN reports that one third of the world’s food becomes garbage

(Image: Alfred Ng) 

We already knew we probably waste way more food than we should, but we didn’t know it was this bad. As the BBC reports, a recently released United Nations study has found that one billion tons of food is discarded across the globe every year, prompting food retailers to re-evaluate their practices. After the jump, five things we learned from the study.

1. The sheer numbers
Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, including just over 200 pounds per person per year in North America or Europe (compared to only 11 to 24 pounds per person in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia).

2. Food waste ain’t food loss
The report distinguishes between loss and waste, the former referring to food that vanishes during the production and distribution process, while the latter is essentially those green beans still on our plate.

3. The UN hates bargains
We were shocked to read that “two-for-one” deals were scorned in the report. The reason? They lead consumers to buy more food than they will actually end up consuming.

4. Fruits and veggies are the biggest losers
Since it goes bad the fastest, produce is the most commonly wasted food—so next time we’ll be sure to finish all of our green beans. For humanity’s sake.

5. Rich people suck
See number one. Also, one of the more shocking findings was that rich countries waste 222 million tons of food per year—slightly less than the entire region of sub-Saharan Africa produces.

The study, which concludes that when it comes to food, consumers are better off buying local, was conducted by Captain Obvious the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology in preparation for an upcoming international trade fair for food packagers being held in Germany later this month. Guy Fieri, consider this your second warning.

• One third of world’s food is wasted, says UN study [BBC News]