Why Westerners Are the Wastrels of the World

Thursday, December 27, 2007 by: Al G Smith
Tags: food waste, health news, Natural News

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) Here in the UK it has been time for a particular story to 'do the rounds' of the media once again in recent days. This is a news item that has cropped up in major media once or twice a year in the last half decade (a quick search of the web reveals). What is the story? The one about how much food we manage to waste in our arguably overly well-blessed society.

It appears that in the UK, we are currently throwing out over 30 percent of the food we buy every week. In other words we buy so much food, nearly one third of it actually goes past its 'best before' date before we get round to eating it. One reason for this is, no doubt, the increasingly ubiquitous, and tempting, "Twofers" and "BOGOFs" found in most food retailing havens. (You'll probably know that these terms are the merchandising slang for 'Two for One' offers and 'Buy One Get One Free' incentives!)

This level of wastefulness is both startling, and rather disgusting at the same time, yet the simplicity of such an observation obscures a number of other concerns. Some of these concerns will be discussed in a moment, but first a note about how this habit of overstocking seems to be a shared fallibility in the West.

The problem of wasteful consumption is one the UK is guilty of along with our cousins across the Atlantic. The US fares a little better than the UK with wastage figures of 'only' around 25 percent of all food purchased by consumers. Studies have also shown that the volume of wastage of different food groups tends to vary. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more perishable items are wasted in greater amounts with around one third of all liquid milk and a similar proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables contributing to the mountain of waste.

Naturally, with the US population being around five times that of the UK the total volumes of waste are, pro rata, staggeringly higher even though the percentages wasted may be a little less. Surveys undertaken in recent times indicate that something like 100 billion pounds (in weight) of food is wasted annually in the US. This is a truly monumental amount that averages out at over 260 million pounds wasted daily; equivalent to over three quarters of a pound of food per person per day!

As mentioned this astonishing tendency towards wastefulness is accompanied by some further disturbing factors, here are but a few of them:

* Sources suggest that in the US there are some 30 million people living at or below the poverty level, all of whom could eat well if just 4 percent of the annually wasted food was made available to them!

* The UK and US now host some of the highest proportions of overweight citizens in the world. Our wasteful habits cannot, therefore, simply be addressed by encouraging more efficient consumption as this would only exacerbate the obesity problem. It seems that people must be persuaded to buy less, but this is hardly a likelihood in our consumerism oriented societies.

* Spending on 'food' related advertising in the US and UK is booming. For example, amounts approaching UK 600 million (equivalent to about US $1200 million) per year are spent on TV advertising in the UK alone. Of this sum, more than half is spent on promoting convenience foods, snack foods and confectionery. In excess of another 10 percent of the total is solely spent on promoting soft drinks.

* These sums pale almost into insignificance by comparison with the promotional budgets of the major food and beverage companies in the US. In 2003, major food product manufacturers spent over US $8 billion (UK 4 billion) on advertising. Soft drink manufacturer Pepsi alone 'invested' the equivalent of the UK's total TV advertising expenditure on supporting their 'famous' brand!.

Along with supermarket initiatives already mentioned, it can easily be deduced why people are cajoled into over-purchasing, and ultimately under-consuming. Indeed with every American now imbibing around a gallon of soft-drinks per week on average, many of those advertising dollars must be hitting their mark.

In the UK, the vast majority of food is purchased from the virtual oligopoly of about five main supermarket brands. These modern-day 'grocers' maintain that their advertising and stocking strategies are all developed with the consumer in mind. We are frequently told that they simply sell what the customer demands! Even so, with a decreasing number of smaller retailers to resort to (many already having been driven into bankruptcy by the 'big boys' dominance in the marketplace) these companies insist on spending increasing amounts on TV advertising to try and 'keep us loyal'. What is significant is that the third of food we buy but throw away represents a huge contribution towards the supermarket chains annual profits. This is why we can hardly expect to see the end of the 'Twofers' or 'BOGOFs' any time soon!

All in all, something is evidently wrong here and it doesn't take much expertise to make such an assessment. Given the importance of the food manufacturing and retailing industry to the major Western economies, and given the increasing role that advertising plays in influencing consumer purchasing habits, there seems no likely early solution to the issues of over-purchasing, over-eating and undue wastefulness. In fact, with the constant requirement for companies to post ever increasing annual profits, the likelihood that they will ever encourage any moderation in purchasing habits is more than just remote.

One closing thought. It has been stated that the US alone appears to waste some US $100 billion in food per year. It has also been suggested that just US $4 billion of this would feed the 30 million poverty-stricken American citizens. The food waste mountain of the US by itself would presumably provide enough sustenance for at least another 720 million of the less fortunate inhabitants of this globe! If it were possible to somehow distribute the unnecessarily purchased surfeit of food, what an impact it would have without a single sacrifice or penny given in charity.

How sad it is then that there is such an imbalance of resources around this planet, with so little apparent motivation to resolve the problem, only an appetite for ever more food that will simply end up in the bin. Perhaps the Supermarkets should come clean and start to market their products not with the epithet BOGOF, but with a new acronym BOGOTTA: 'Buy One Get One To Throw Away'!

About the author

Al G Smith MSc BSc - Has been working and teaching in the food related sector for over 30 years and is currently a website publisher ( and Independent Representative for the World's first extensive range of Certified Organic skin care and cosmetics (

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.

Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...


Now Available at

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...


Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...


Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at

Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.