Americans waste 50 per cent of their food annually. Britons follow close behind by dumping 20 million tonnes of perfectly edible food even as a billion people go hungry across the world.
Writer Tristram Stuart is the kind of man who is not afraid to ransack garbage bins and live off them for months in order to make a point. And the point he makes in his book titled Waste — in which he talks about gorging off Stilton cheeses, apricots preserved in Cognac and fifty pots of ice-cream hauled out of the bins of Primrose Hill in North West London — is that humans waste shocking amounts of food every year. In India, for instance, millions of tonnes of vegetables are lost annually due to a poor supply chain.
Sometimes, inept policies are at fault. Most food, says Stuart, is perfectly edible even weeks after its sell-by-dates. Other examples of wastage: Marks & Spencer rejects 13,000 slices of bread every day because it insists that its sandwich suppliers chuck the crusts and the first slices from every loaf; 25-40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are junked because they are not perfectly shaped. All this profligacy could simply be laughed off, if they didn’t have such dire ramifications — global food shortages, wild price swings, destruction of forests, and over a billion hungry people. Reading Stuart’s book will probably change our consumption patterns in ways we never imagined.