How huge amounts of food are wasted at home


A report by the UK’s global food security programme entitled Food waste within global food systems has attracted headlines such as ‘Up to two-fifths of fruit and veg crop is wasted because it is ‘ugly’‘ but this by no means tells the whole story. ‘Ugly’ food is wasted before it even gets home.

According to the report (p12) “38 million tonnes of food and drink enter UK homes each year, of which nearly one fifth is discarded. This translates into a £12 billion annual food surplus, costing £480 per average household and £680 for family households”. “On average, households amass over 5kg total food waste weekly”.  This is in part from cooking too much (which encourages people to overeat anyway – is obesity a form of food waste?), but mostly from food going out of date.

Apparently “single-person households generate the most waste”. This is partly attributed to singletons being “challenged by pack sizes and BOGOF retail promotions”. Although the report also says that “Households which typically generate the least food waste” include “the elderly” (whom I understand represent a substantial proportion of the lone household population), one possible reason being “a ‘wartime mentality’ towards food”. This seems to be more than balanced out by the other end of the age range: “Younger-person households appear unprepared and inexperienced in managing food within their homes. Individuals are less likely to check stocks prior to shopping and are less familiar with food storage”.

“Families with children” are also cited as high generators of food waste, but then it is very difficult to efficiently manage a child’s transient whims as to its food likes from one week to the next!

I think that all this points to greater upfront planning leading to less food waste. This week I planned my main meals around what was already available to use (thanks to ‘At Home with Mrs M‘). Although this is one of the fundamental missions of this blog, by writing down exactly what I was going to cook it ensured that I kept to the plan (especially as I had to cook all the meals in order to detail them in this blog!).

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