Monday, November 12, 2012

Waste - Uncovering the global food waste scandal



Boring book with way too much statistics, but with the last 150 pages out of a 450 page book as notes and appendix, perhaps the author is trying to prove that his statistics are reliable. 

Still this book has been an enlightenment.  I always thought that food wasted at the table is just food wasted at the table: 

However, similar to chain of effect like that of electricity production, what you save at the consumer end saves so much more that the start of the chain near production.  The reasons being:

  • Supermarkets have a contract to buy a fixed amount from the farmers, however if the farmers fall short of that production amount, the farmers will be fined.  As such, the farmers will over produce.  Pg 109 - farmers often produce at up to 140 % of what is ordered.
  • As supermarkets sell to customers who are now used to the idea of the perfect looking food, any produce such as potatoe etc that has blemishes etc now has to be thrown although it is perfectly acceptable.  Pg 102 - Estimates are that up to 1/3 or 1/2 of British fruits and vegetables grown for the supermarkets are rejected. 
  • Overstocking by supermarkets. The retail price of any item is 2 - 3 times the cost price, which means it is better to waste 2 of each product than to lose even just one sale by selling out of it. Disproportionate size of profit margins and low cost of food waste disposal. 
  • In fishing, the practices of Discards - unwanted fish of wrong size or species is thrown back. results in 70-80% of the fish perish in the process. The global average shrimp - trawling discard rate is about 62 % of total catch - Pg 135
Pg 110- Hence in the case of carrots in UK from Farm to Fork, 58 % is wasted and only 42 % reaches consumers.  For every one carrot you eat,  you have paid for another one to be thrown away. 

In a global food market in which the rich and poor country buy from the same pool of internationally traded commodities, we are all essentially buying food from the same common sources.  Putting food in the bin is equivalent of taking it off the world market and out of the mouth of the starving

Time to learn to live in scarcity - cause the appearance of infinite abundance is an illusion

Being held responsible for the unintended consequence of our deeds is problematic at best of times, and our sense of personal responsibility is further dissipated when the ultimate causes are due to collective behaviour. 

It is a relief that we can enhance the lives of the hungry by something as easy as buying only the food what we are going to eat, and eating whatever we buy. 

I don't know, after reading this book, I rather let my children be a little hungry than to chase them around the table to finish the food/throw it away.
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