1. Britain is throwing away half of all the food produced on farms, according to the latest estimates of the amount of edible produce we waste.
2. About twenty million tons of food is thrown out each year: equivalent to half of the food import needs for the whole of Africa.
3. Sixteen million tons of this is wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing. Much of the rest is thought to be destroyed between the farm field and the shop shelf.
4. The total bill to the nation is estimated to be more than £20 billion. The issue has arisen as supermarkets fight off criticism over billions of plastic carrier bags handed out free each year.
5. Lord Haskins said yesterday that tackling the mountain of food wasted in this country every year would help to preserve the environment and also feeding a growing global population in the face of major food shortages.
6. Last week, Japan promised a large amount of food aid for Burundi, in Africa, where malnutrition runs at 44 per cent. The food thrown away in the UK last year would meet the equivalent of Burundi's shortages more than 40 times over.
7. Lord Haskins' estimate suggests the problem in the UK is far greater than previously imagined and came as global food prices rose. Food prices have soared by more than 75 per cent since their lows of 2000, jumping by more than a fifth last year alone, prompting riots in some countries.
8. Consumers, who stick to “use-by” dates and buy supermarket multi-buy offers, are the biggest culprits, throwing away one-third of everything they buy, according to WRAP. The National Consumer Council will highlight the issue of buy-one-get-one-free promotions in a campaign this spring.
9. Tony Lowe of FareShare, a national food charity, said: "Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people do not have access to food … while at the same time millions of tons of perfectly fine food are being disposed of. In the UK the extent of food poverty is huge. Millions of people with low or no income find it harder to access affordable, nutritious food."
10. Lord Haskins said. "If people ate a bit less and wasted a bit less you'd help to solve the problem. If the world was vegetarian then you'd solve the problem completely." One-third of wheat grown globally is fed to farm animals.
11. Supermarkets are secretive about food waste. Tesco has not published figures showing how much it sends to landfill since 2004. It says it wasted less than 1 per cent of its food each year.
12. Waitrose, which sells off "ugly" fruit and vegetables cheaply, said: "It is not in our business interests to produce waste so our branch managers work very hard to minimise it."
QUESTIONS 1. Where is the ‘ geography’ in this story ? (Think: Transport, Jobs, Environment, Resources) 2. What is your personal response to the facts in paragraphs 1-4 ? 3. What social changes are necessary to reduce the amount of food that we waste ? 4. Add at least 3 tips of your own to suggest how the amount of food wasted can be reduced.
Adapted from article in ‘The Independent on Sunday’ on 2 nd of March, 2008