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In the French documentary The Gleaners and I, director Agnès Varda shows us a mountain of potatoes: a giant brown pile of spuds squatting in an empty lot.
The potatoes, she tells us, are being dumped simply because they're the wrong size or shape. Heart-shaped potatoes are not acceptable.
It's a strong image of how much food is thrown away every day. At the World Food Summit in June 2008, the director-general of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf said, "in a single country, food wastage can amount to [US]$100 billion annually".
This excess seems even more appalling given that, as Diouf added, we only need US$30 billion (A$31 billion) to feed the world's hungry.
World hunger aside, the environmental cost is also huge. Environmental NGO Do Something!, using NSW Government food waste research stats, found that we throw out a whopping A$7.8 billion worth of food each year. Nearly half the household waste we discard is food.
When we toss our leftovers into the bin, they go the same way as any other rubbish: to landfill. Once there, they don't properly decompose because landfill is an oxygen-free environment. Instead, the food scraps ferment, producing methane - a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Yet, this is small potatoes compared with the impact of growing, producing and transporting food that is simply thrown away.
At every step, from the farm gate to the dinner table, food is wasted. Farmers discard imperfect fruit and vegetables, supermarkets order too much, restaurants over cater and individuals shop too enthusiastically and suffer from 'eyes too big for their tummies'.
And with more than a third of our eco-footprint attributable to our food choices, this waste makes a monumental difference to our planet. A British study reported that for every tonne of food waste avoided, a quantity of greenhouse gases equivalent to 4.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide is saved.
Why have we become so wasteful? Is it because food is now relatively cheap? Or is it because we're such a high turnover generation, not used to making every resource count?
Edith Thompson, a former radio producer and presenter who grew up during the depression, now grows organic vegetables in her backyard. She thinks the reason people are so wasteful is because they're too busy.
"I'm amazed with people who…leave a little pad of butter untouched or leave half a cup of tea," she says. "I never leave anything on the plate and if I do it goes to the chickens."
Some people are enterprising enough to capitalise on this mountain of unused food. Dumpster divers, or 'freegans' raid supermarket skips to find dented cans, ageing yoghurt, even chocolate bars still in their wrappers.
Although not everyone has the time or inclination to be rummaging about in supermarket skips, the freegans are preventing waste from ending up in destination landfill - and they're getting a free lunch at the same time.
A commercial and more formal version of the same thing is a chain of discount supermarkets based in Victoria called Not Quite Right. Its stores stock groceries, dairy, liquor and personal care and beauty products, all sourced from manufacturer excess or stock approaching its best-before date.
Then there are various charities, which collect unused food and redistribute it to those in need.
But it's easy to stop wasting food at home. A bit of thought before a trip to the shops can help you avoid bringing home stuff you don't need. And a bit of creativity in the kitchen will help you find ways to use up your leftovers.
As well as saving money, it could easily shrink your eco-footprint by up to 10 per cent. As Edith Thompson says, "It's a mind frame you have to get into."