We don’t waste food. Well. We waste it MOST reluctantly. It has to be green as Kermit, hard as a rock or hairy as a wilderbeast to make it into our compost bin. So we probably waste the same amount as most people, but if it sits in our fridge first for 3 weeks eyeballing us, that makes it waaaay better, no?!
Yesterday, spreading like a layer of fur over month old spaghetti came the awareness that up to half of all food produced goes in the bin. Doesn’t make it into the mouth of a single soul. It is like the world buys a chocolate gateaux, carves itself off a humongous slice and then slides the rest straight onto the floor and stamps on it.
Oh, world. You squanderbug.
Last night I was flicking through a book of wartime posters I got from my local Oxfam bookshop and came across some amazing ones about food waste. How up in arms we were then! I hope that yesterday’s research gets us equally proactive.
A moment’s reflection takes it from being eyepoppingly shocking to heartachingly painful. That we could be so wasteful, that we could throw away food when ONE in EIGHT people go to bed hungry. There is a real injustice in that. And the utter travesty, the disrespect. That lives are being poured into producing crops, that people who are hungry work their fingers to the bones to get food on our plates and then it doesn’t even make it there.
Last year my family and I lived on a joint food budget of £2.50 a day for a week, as part of the challenge Live Below the Line. Cor, I was hungry. And I actually broke the rules. You see, I COULD NOT BEAR walking past bins of scrapped fruit and veg at our local market, knowing that I was facing a dry meal of budget rice. So I raided the bins, with my daughter in tow, while everyone looked on. It was completely humiliating.
But these global bins, into which 30-50% of our food waste goes isn’t even raidable. It isn’t even a case of people putting dignity on hold just to eat.
In the last 24 hours, there has been, brilliantly, loads of talk about how we can save food, how to judge products better, search for more sustainable means of getting produce. But as Ben Phillips of Oxfam points out the problem is two fold. There is a problem here in the UK, to do with our own kitchens and supermarkets, but there is also another dimension, a lack of infrastructure to support farmers in developing countries, where sometimes whole fields of crops go to waste. There are whole countries where farmers are the very back bone (and do you know, the majority are women? And hungry?) but where they have no rights, no roads, no advocacy and support. Despite being incredibly skilled, dedicated and hard working.
The world is messed up, we have dodgy governments, injustice riddled throughout and we have these awful, wasteful ways. I’m such an optimist though. I honestly think people are awesome. We only have to cast about a few generations to see how much we have achieved. We are, albeit too incrementally, getting better. We are eradicating illness, busting up institutional Isms, creating climate-saving technologies. We are coming up with solutions, working things out. And I think we can do it here.
We can make a raid on hunger.
It’s a complex situtation, eh, so let’s got for a multi-faceted response. How about:
- Tackling your own food systems, getting things right there. Fellow Blogger Thinly Spread has many, and is curating more, tips.
- Tackling the global food system, with Oxfam’s GROW campaign, who are visionaries of a world where everyone has enough.
- Become a visionary yourself and nominate someone or something in your community as a Food Hero
- Using craft to reflect on, and take political action, with the Craftivist’s #imapiece project. You can see my reflections, talking hunger with my two year old here
- Get inspired by what is possible by watching Best Before, an ace documentary on the London food revolution
- Hold our government to account at the upcoming Hunger Summit. They ARE culpable, just as we are.Clicking the Oxfam GROW link above will ensure you don’t miss out on that.
- Consider doing Live Below the Line in May. It may sound a little Old Skool, but I found it an incredibly helpful, immersive experience where I asked hard question of myself and the world.
I’d love to hear your response to the research, and what you are hoping to do…