|We’re throwing away more food than ever before.|
As we wrote earlier in the week, food waste is becoming the core of the problem with waste. Food waste triggers environmental, social, inequality and financial problems. It’s the issue on which the majority of political parties agree; it is a problem we must deal with, but none have yet masterminded a solution, in fact if anything the problem is worsening.
We must make it a topic that is discussed widely and with urgency. That’s why this week we partnered with Waste Watch’s ‘Waste Less, Live More Week’. We need to reengineer the way we think about food and how we can all think of smarter way to shop and consume food. Waste Watch is just one of a host of organisations who are making us think about this.
We believe this battle should start with education; an education on all levels. We have lost our understanding of food, where it comes from and how it should look. Big supermarkets should take a lot of responsibility for this. There are a few leaders, but unfortunately the majority of supermarkets in their thirst for making profit, fail to educate their customers where the food they buy comes from. They try to disguise how it looks and prints an image that just because a carrot might be a bit misshapen it is no good to eat and goes straight in the bin. Or rather in one of the big containers supermarkets are designating for the ever-growing amount of perfectly good food that’s being thrown away. Let’s stay with the carrot because it proves such a good analogy, instead of completely removing every single DNA on it, that could prove it actually comes from a farm in the countryside and is not produced at a factory, you could leave the natural dna on it by not removing the green bit at the top, and let’s be honest if you were to leave the soil on top wouldn’t harm anyone.
Supermarkets are growing bigger and bigger and losing their identity with the national world, becoming almost like food factories. The bigger the supermarket grows, the bigger the food waste they produce is likely to be. Finally, supermarket offers like ‘buy one get one free’, make people buy food that they do not need and which will quite likely end up in the bin. But the biggest travesty of supermarkets food waste might be the scaremongering they provoke with their sell-by dates, that make people throw away perfectly good food without even trying it. Quite often sell-by dates do not have any scientific fact behind it.
But of course supermarkets should not bear the brunt alone, we must remember what they’re doing is perfectly legal. There has been a lack of political will to put forward legislation that would tackle the problem.
We believe that moving forward with implementing these regulations would help to start tackle the problem:
1) Governments must move forward with legislations that would penalise supermarkets for the food they throw away. High fines should be implemented for every gram of food they throw away, in such way that there is no economic sense of buying in food that they can’t sell.
2) Localism must be championed. We need to buy more seasonal and local, huge investments in the local economy could be made if tighter standards for how much of a supermarkets food should be bought in the same country. This would reduce food waste.
3) A scientific review should be made into supermarkets sell-by dates, some of supermarkets sell-by dates are valid, but far too many are not – a properly conducted review and subsequent change of sell-by dates would also cut food waste.
4) Councils must go on a charm offensive and promote the grow your own principle and develop an education programme on how much perfectly good food you can find in the wild and that won’t cost you a penny. This would reduce food waste
5) Governments must work with chefs like Jamie Oliver, who in a series of programmes in the UK and the US, educated schools about food and where it comes from and what healthy and good food is. But further measures are needed to stretch the education programme to all age groups, as unfortunately it has shown that this is necessary. This would also cut food waste.
Just a few of these steps would take the first steps to start to tackle food waste in a world where more people are going hungry than ever before. In the poorest parts of this world, people are dying of starvation, while in the rich parts of this world people are becoming increasingly sick and in some cases dying from eating too much – this must be tackled with the urgency it requires and food waste is at the core of it.
Sub edited by Charlotte Paton