Simply put, advanced countries choose to waste more food. Thirty to 50 percent of the food that makes it to supermarket shelves in advanced countries is thrown away in the homes of the people that purchase it. In the U.K., for example, seven million tons of food are tossed into the kitchen trash every year. In the U.S., a typical American throws out 40 percent of fresh fish,
23 percent of eggs, and 20 percent of milk, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. Super deals (Buy one, get one free!) and conservative “use-by” dates encourage tremendous waste on the part of consumers.
Advanced countries also value food differently because they spend less of their overall income on it—10 percent, according to Forbes—than residents of developing nations. In India, for example, the average person spends 25 percent of their income on provisions.
How does that difference in spending affect waste? The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. offers a sobering statistic: “Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).”
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