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How Much Food Do We Waste? Probably A Lot More Than You Think
August 29, 2012
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Chances are, when you were a kid, eating dinner, and not all that excited about that cauliflower on your plate, your mom or dad gave you the standard line: "Eat that! You know how many kids are going hungry in the world, and you're wasting perfectly good food!"

We've all heard it. And yet, we still waste food. A lot of it. A new report suggests a third to half of all food grown around the world is wasted - either because we throw it out, or because it rots before it even gets to us.

The report also says the average American family wastes $2200 worth of food each year. That's about 40% of the food they buy. As a country, that works out to $165 billion worth of food every year, or 20 pounds of food per person, per month.

It's much the same story in Canada.

That's unbelievable when you consider nearly a billion people in the world suffer from hunger or malnourishment. Plus, the gap between rich and poor keeps growing and many people don't have enough money to make ends meet.

And because we waste so much food, we're also wasting water and energy. Right now, we use about 70% of the world's water to irrigate crops and grow food. And get this: according to experts, you know how much water it takes to make one hamburger? 2,500 litres, with much of that water used to irrigate livestock feed.

The report was released at conference in Sweden, as part of World Water Week. It was done by the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Organizers at the conference also premiered a new documentary about the cost of wasting food and water. It's called 'Taste The Waste,' by German filmmaker Valentin Thurn. Here's a clip. It's really eye-opening.

A Canadian man named Grant Baldwin is also making a film about food waste called 'Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story.' For this film, Baldwin and his partner Jenny Rustemeyer are only eating food that is headed for the garbage.

They're buying food from grocery stores that's already been pulled off the shelves. They're also going to farmers' markets to buy the "ugly stuff" the farmers can't sell. Occasionally, they even find stuff in dumpsters.

Baldwin started the project on Canada Day, and plans to keep going until the new year. He says he's been shocked by the amount of food he's seen going to waste - everything from a bin full of yogurt that's still cold and hasn't expired, to almost $6000 worth of perfectly good organic chocolate.

Baldwin says he hopes the film will help change how we look at food and value food. As he puts it, "when we think about dinner, we think about what would I like eat right now, not what do I have to eat right now. And by doing that, we feel that we need to go out and get something else to complete something, instead of just using what we already have."

Baldwin's film is a followup to his award-winning doc 'The Clean Bin Project' that documented their successful attempt to not create any garbage for a year.

CBC Radio's Matt Galloway spoke to Baldwin today on Metro Morning in Toronto. And he got a few simple tips to cut down on the amount of food we waste. Check out the full interview here.

Related stories on Strombo.com:

INFOGRAPHIC: Why and How to Stop Wasting Water

World Hunger Not Insurmountable, Scientists Say

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