If you're bummed by today's gloomy news, this won't do much to raise your spirits. A new report out today outlines the "staggering" amount of food wasted around the globe each year: as much as 50% of what's produced. The UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that between 1.3 billion and 2.2 billion tons of the 4.4 billion tons produced each year "never reaches a human stomach." It lays the blame on a range of factors, from perfectly edible crops rejected by supermarkets because they fail to meet cosmetic appearance standards to overly strict sell-by dates, reports the Guardian.
America's love of couponing probably doesn't help, either: The report also targets sales that encourage consumers to buy multiples of a given product; the perishable ones often meet a trash-can fate. In the case of third-world and developing countries, inefficient harvesting and storage contribute to the figure. And waste begets waste: As much as 550 billion cubic meters of water is used on crops that end up in the trash. (Click to see the effect such waste has on your wallet.)