Wasting food is bad news for the environment, and a study released recently from the UN Environment Programme found that between our homes, restaurants, and food shops, 17 percent of all our food gets dumped—about a sixth of the food we have. If you add on food lost in production, about a third of all food produced never reaches a mouth.
The study shows that 11 percent of the overall food waste actually comes from our fridges and cupboards, while just five percent comes from stores, and two percent comes from restaurants. Part of the issue are those “sell-by” dates, which aren’t regulated by the government, so 80 percent of us end up throwing away food early. In addition, many people live far away from grocery stores, in areas referred to as “food deserts,” so they can’t just run to the grocery store for fresh items, and they may have more fresh items go bad in their fridge.
On an individual level, we can be more thoughtful and prepared when we go to the grocery store, and only buy fresh produce that we 100 percent will be eating in the next few days. But, on a societal level, experts say we need more of an education on how to preserve food and understand tricky labels, food recycling, and composting must be incentivized; in addition companies should be pushed to sell smaller quantities of healthy, fresh, food for one or two people.