A new report called "The Food Wastage Footprint [pdf]" produced by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has found that globally about a third of the food produced for humans is wasted and this is creating a huge increase in carbon emissions, as well as a major waste of water.
Every year about a third of all food for human consumption, around 1.3 billion tons, is wasted, along with all the energy, water and chemicals needed to produce it and dispose of it.
Almost 30 percent of the world's farmland, and a volume of water equivalent to the annual discharge of the River Volga, are in effect being used in vain.
This report also concludes that this waste creates 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.
This means that in addition to just being a colossal waste of money on the individual scale, food waste is also contributing to the global warming that is going to make food production even more challenging in the future. That is a dangerous cycle we need to break.
Kate Valentine at Think Progress points out that tackling food waste could help alleviate strain on the environment:
Reducing this food waste isn’t just necessary to help the climate — it’s important if the planet wants to avoid future spikes in food insecurity. By 2050, the report notes, food production will need to increase by 60 percent in order to meet the Earth’s growing population’s demand. Reducing food waste would lessen this need to increase production and would help alleviate further strain on natural resources.
Efforts are underway to educate people about food waste. This year, for example, TreeHugger partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote an food waste awareness campaign called THINK*EAT*SAVE. UNEP has some good resources on how to save food. Here's a video on food waste produced for the event.
There's also plenty more info on food waste deep in the TreeHugger archives, so check out the links to the left or search at the top of the page for more.