01/10/2013 11:51 am ET

Rich Countries Trashing Up To Half Of All Food: Report

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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