Sunday, 20 November 2011

Food wastage and three tonnes of carrots

My head has been befuddled for the past three days since I listened to a piece on Radio 4 the other morning about food wastage and some charity who were using 'waste' food.

There's a piece on the BBC news website here and it makes my head even more befuddled. Personally I enjoyed being hectored at by the BBC and well meaning charities, I like to humour people with differing opinions than my own, it relieves me of responsibility for my actions.

I don't know what they want me to do.

The piece on the radio had an interview with a chap from the charity and a factoid that British households throw away 25% of the food they buy, when the interviewer questioned whether that was things like peelings and eggshells, they charity chap admitted that if you included those things it would be closer to 38% of food is thrown away by households.

In my household we throw away no food. Personally I'm a manufacturing engineer following the just in time strategy for inventory, so I only buy food for meals on the day I'm consuming it. Peelings and stuff go in the compost heap in the back garden. Those 25% and 38% figures are talking about other people, not me. I don't buy food that I'm not going to eat. I'm not quite sure why anyone would.

Anyhoo, the piece on the radio went on to cover what the charity does, it has a food warehouse in south London where food that supermarket's don't want it is stored and sorted by volunteers. On Saturday they were doing a thing in Trafalgar Square where they were making up 5,000 meals with this unwanted food.

On of the factoids covered in the piece was that there were three tonnes of carrots in the warehouse, unwanted by supermarkets.


They did point out that in the past three years supermarkets have started using more and more wonky vegetables in their ready meals and value ranges, although I suspect this is more due to a change in EU directives which has made it possible rather than some anti-waste agenda by the shops.

For the last three days that three tonnes of carrots has rested heavily in my mind.

I don't understand what they want the public to do.

The public have already bought sufficient carrots, all that they want to eat, the three tonnes is surplus. Should we have bought more carrots? Should we have bought more food than we wanted?

The supermarkets didn't want the carrots, knowing that they wouldn't be sold and they would be wasted. No one else in the chain were willing to pay for the carrots, so they ended up being given away for free to the charity.

Is it the bastard farmer's fault for growing three tonnes too many carrots? Well, no, it was probably just good weather that fucked up his quantities.

So just what is the problem? Its just a surplus, not waste. The alternative is a shortage of carrots, or somehow magically growing exactly the right quantity.

Should we have bought more carrots?

I don't even like carrots. Should I have bought the damned things and eaten them even if they taste like carrots which I don't like, just so they wouldn't be wasted?

In the piece on the BBC website there are these two consecutive paragraphs
"Over the last four decades food prices have come down and food has become more disposable," he said.
"But there are a billion hungry people in the world and demand for more food in the West is contributing to that by pushing up prices elsewhere but then we're throwing a third of it away.

Are food prices coming down or going up? Yes, its possible that both cases can happen simultaneously in two different places. But it makes no sense.

Surely if there is a surplus then the problem is just in transporting it to where its wanted, rather than by trying to get people to don't want to eat three tonnes of fucking carrots to eat the damned things.

No, making them into carrot cake is not going to make me want to eat the fucking things.

Animal feed, why can't they just feed them to animals?

Do dogs eat carrot cake?

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