Around one third of food grown for human consumption in the UK ends up in the rubbish bin, new figures reveal.
One third of food ends up in the garbage bin
Statistics from the government and food industry show each adult wastes food to the value of £420 each year.
Changes in people's habits and scares over food safety are helping wastage to increase by 15% every decade, the BBC's Costing the Earth found.
The government adviser on food and farming, Lord Haskins, said the figures were outrageous.
"I think it reflects on all of us. It is the worst side of us as consumers," he told the BBC.
"Excess of affluence means that we think food is cheap, and therefore we can throw it away.
"We are very greedy when we go and shop. Our eyes are bigger than stomachs in homes and in restaurants.
"We are pretty idle when we have food left over in our houses. We can't be bothered to deal with leftovers.
"We are risk averse. We're obsessed with sell-by dates, so that we throw away perfectly good food which happens to be out of code."
BBC rural affairs correspondent Tom Heap said demands for "pristine looking" produce means a lot of food does not make the grade and never leaves the farm gate.
People are eating out more and the catering industry throws away one third of all they buy, he said.
A lack of time or knowledge to use up leftovers is also to blame for increasing food wastage.
Observers say scares over food safety means people bin food too readily.
Costing the Earth, on BBC Radio 4 at 2100 BST, Thursday 14 April, will take an in-depth look at the issue.