Waste Not Want Not

OR Much Ado About Doing Nothing

They tell us that the world is running short of food. Time for a visit from ‘Captain Obvious!’ People starving in the third world could have told you that decades ago but sadly they’re no longer here to say I told you so. After all, what was Live Aid all about? What ‘they’ really mean is that the affluent first world is getting just a little jittery because the price of rice is sure to rise and our boiled rice in our local restaurant will cost just that little bit more. There are a lot of people on this planet and they all need feeding. No change there then. Yet even here in Corby tons of perfectly good food has been thrown away on a regular basis purely because it may or may not have been contaminated. What happened was this. Pallet loads of foodstuffs arrived from the world’s food processors into some of the vast warehouses we see all around the Corby borough. One single packet of whatever in a single container load was found to have a hole in it and therefore needed to be rejected. Understandable. However, because of some weird legislation, probably out of Brussels, this damaged packet required that the entire container load of food must be rejected and sent for ‘deep burial’. This description of disposal is purely anecdotal yet feasible and logical. I have no reason to disbelieve it. The rest of the food on the container, and I am talking tons of food, was automatically condemned with only a cursory inspection. I know this because I have witnessed it first hand. Just imagine if you will that this practice is probably going on right now in vast warehouses across the entire western world on a weekly or even daily basis. Surely someone somewhere has to stand up and say ‘This is immorality on a vast scale and must stop immediately’. Just this week the lovely ladies of the WI were talking at one of their regular meetings in Desborough about ways of using ‘left-over’ food: how it might be used to save waste. Sadly, my mind went back to my several months in a vast warehouse where skips turned up to collect perfectly good food for burial, most of which was contained in thick plastic. Even the maggots couldn’t get at it! If it was dug up today it might still be good for human consumption. This is not to say that the good ladies of the WI are wasting their time, on the contrary, they are doing precisely the right thing. Governments, the EU, the USA and the world food industry could and should start to do the right thing. Remember too, the next time you’re tempted to say ‘I’m starving’, think again. Our world is not, but their world is a very small seriously hungry place.

UPDATE 21 October 2013: Two-thirds of produce for Tesco bagged salads wasted http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24603008

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