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Christian duty to cut food waste, says charity

A charity that runs foodbanks across the UK says Christians should be more responsible when it comes to buying food to stop wastage.

The Trussell Trust's comments came after a report revealed that an average family wastes nearly £500 a year on food that ends up in the bin - despite it being perfectly fine to eat.

The research by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 'Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not', says across the world people throw away half the food that's produced. In the UK some of the major reasons for wastage include:

  • Major supermarkets rejecting entire crops of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables because they do not have a nice physical characteristics
  • up to 30% of the UK's vegetable crop is never harvested because of this.
  • Sales promotions such as two for one's encourage customers to purchase excessive quantities which, in the case of perishable foodstuffs, inevitably generates wastage in the home. 
  • Strict sell-by dates which put off consumers from eating.

Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers describes the amount of food wasted and lost around the world as 'staggering'. 

He said:

"This is food that could be used to feed the world's growing population - as well as those in hunger today. 

"It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of this food."

Adrian Curtis is the Foodbank Network Director for the Trussell Trust. Speaking on Premier's News Hour he told Victoria Laurence it's an issue we all need to consider carefully.

Wasting food doesn't only mean you lose the product but you're also wasting precious resources including land, water and energy. Ten per cent of rich countries' greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never eaten.

The report also warns this issues needs to be tackled as the population grows. The United Nations estimates there'll be an extra three billion mouths to feed by 2075, which will increase pressure on the resources needed to produce food. The IME said by improving processes and infrastructure as well as changing consumer mind-sets, we would have the ability to provide 60-100% more food to feed the world's growing population. Laura Webster is Policy Manager at Christian International Development charity Tearfund.

Speaking on the News Hour she told Premier's Victoria Laurence about the impact food waste in the UK has on the developing world. 

David Shreeve, the Church of England's national environmental adviser, said:

"Today's news that half of the world's food ends up being thrown away is a wake up call for us all. 

"The Church of England, through its Shrinking the Footprint campaign, is committed to working on issues of food waste. 

"The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, chair of Shrinking the Footprint, has taken a lead, working closely with the Feeding the 5000 campaign in highlighting the importance of cutting food waste. "Churches across the country are rising to the challenge with food waste awareness campaigns."

The recommendations to combat food waste in today's report include Governments devising strategies that change consumer expectations.

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