The Magic that can be woven around WASTE to STOP IT!
There are so many dreadful stories about how manufacturers, supermarkets and consumers in North America and Europe throw out half of their food – enough to feed the world’s hungry at least three times over, in the book Waste By Tristram Stuart, that the happier ones are really good to recover with!
He does explain just how much food we deprive the world of by intensively rearing so many farm animals. The single easiest way to reduce our individual impact on the environment, and liberate the greatest amount of food, land and water for other uses, would be to eat less meat and fewer dairy products from grain-fed animals. But the most important thing to do is: we have to stop throwing so much food away!
The reasons why shops and manufacturers and supermarkets fling food away is unbelievable, unforgivable and ridiculous. Often for sheer horrifying profits, greed and inefficient management.
For a vegetarian it is heart rending to read how in the ‘live’ wholesale fish markets in Japan fish thrash around in bubbling blue tanks as men dip their hands in to grab anything from eels to octopuses, all destined to be served, hearts still pumping (Oh God!) onto the plates of the piscivorous Japanese!
Japan’s draconian laws on violating use-by dates which had slammed down hard on many Japanese supermarkets, and even MacDonalds, is another cause for waste! Japan’s prominent publication Yomiuri Shimbun ran a five day series of articles on food waste and conducted an experiment in which food canned twenty-five years ago was eaten by reporters, who concluded, that though it tasted terrible, it did them no harm!
In one study done by the Japanese Government it was found that if the food dumped in Japanese bins had been saved, it would have been enough to feed more than 160 million people! Similar stories of waste tumble out of Pakistan (where parties by the wealthy) leave the poor dying with hunger, marriages in India waste mountains of food, while temples pour milk down their floors for God!
So this story is good to read as it will again wake up our own inner soul to save food, to enjoy fighting the waste!
In 2004 the author of this book lived close to Spitalfields Market in East London. There, each Sunday and Wednesday, the organic farmers who came to sell their fruits and vegetables, would throw any over-ripe, blemished or surplus produce into a big heap of boxes in the middle of the market.
Squatters, freegans and others came from miles around for this foraging bonanza.
The foragers would share out fruits and vegetables, and at the end of each Sunday, the writer would cycle home with a couple of boxes of organic produce. Most of it was good food, but, being ripe needed to be used up soon. He would process and sort out quickly. Boxes of tomatoes, redder and juicier than the pale watery speciments in supermarkets were whisked into tomato soup with any herbs, or pickled into tomato relish! Then he would make plums or cherries into jam or chutney! Bananas were always in abundance and were used to make smoothies, often enriched with other fruits like strawberries, raspberries and more!
One summer he stumbled upon a stack of twenty-five box-loads of the ripest, tastiest organic mangoes he had ever seen. The family peeled, stoned them all and churned the pulp up with milk and yoghurt to make a sensational lassi (a sweet drink) that came in handy for his wife’s cousin’s wedding! This story goes to show that similar efforts can be made by large supermarkets as well, to curb waste!
The book though crammed with very hard to take true stories of reckless, ruthless, uncaring, selfish, wicked waste, by all the world’s richer class, is also full of stories which show how it can all change if we decide to do it. And organisations like WASTE and the Governments in many countries are now doing something about waste, but still not enough Tristrum Stuart says.
But just reading this book has already made me itch to find out how I can start having fun as I try new ways to avoid waste in my own home! Which is what all good books are about I guess!