Apparently it's the naughty young people, with their mobile phones and their social media accounts, who waste all the food. We do have to wonder why anyone bothered to try to find this out - surely it must be obvious to everyone?
A generation gap in attitudes towards cooking and eating is helping to fuel the UK’s food waste mountain, research reveals, driven by time-poor millennials who do not understand the value of the food on their plate.
In contrast to savvy older consumers familiar with post-war rationing, the study suggests, those aged 18 to 34 are preoccupied by the visual presentation of food to photograph and share on social media while failing to plan meals, buying too much and then throwing it away.
The UK churns out 15m tonnes of food waste a year – of which 7m tonnes come from households. The estimated retail value of this is a staggering £7.5bn, and the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap, calculates that a typical family wastes £700 of food a year.
A national supermarket study of the food waste patterns of 5,050 UK consumers, published on Friday, reveals nearly two-fifths of those aged over 65 say they never waste food, compared with just 17% of those under 35.
Using American figures, just because we have them at our fingertips, a poor family in 1963 spent 33% of income on a basic but nutritious diet. Today that is more like 11%. And here in the UK food spending is, on average, some 10% of household income today.
None of us should really be surprised that something which has become markedly cheaper in real terms is subject to a little less conservation now, should we?
More than that, these millennials are not "wasting" food because they don't know the value of it. Rather, they are wasting it because they know the value of it. That value being very much less than it was and thus less effort need be expended in avoiding waste.
It has always struck us as extremely odd this concentration upon food waste. It's easy enough to get someone to understand the value of time. Who these days would stoop down to pick a penny up out of the gutter and who wouldn't have done so 100 years ago? The relative value of a penny and the time taken to collect it having changed markedly over this time to the extent that your correspondent has seen beggars throwing away coppers collected as just not worth the effort.
But when it comes to food this obvious point seems to escape people. Food is now cheap, it is logical and righteous that people expend less effort to conserve it. And yet when it is cheap, needing less attention paid to it is when we are all taxed to have bureaucracies like WRAP shouting at us for doing what is logical and righteous - not caring about it very much.
The best we can come up with as an explanation is that those who rule us were brought up by rather strict nannies of that earlier generation and thus are infested with the idea that food is rare and expensive. Time to wake up and smell the broccoli ladies and gentlemen. Recent decades have solved one of humanity's perennial problems, the availability of cheap food. We just don't need to conserve it as we used to.