Waste Not; Want Not

February 4, 2019 · Print This Article

I was served up a whopper of a dinner, yesterday. No, I’m not talking Burger King®, more chilli con carne. I’m no fan of wasting food, especially as a guest, so I was going to try and clear my plate.

After a gallant effort, I was finished, with one third of the food still left.  But as I looked at the unconsumed third of my plate, I was looking at the same proportion of food that the world wastes! Yes, that one third equates to 1.2 billion tonnes of food waste a year, which could feed a billion people. The UN announced they wanted to cut this waste in half by 2030. So what are the solutions?

Fortunately, for me, the hostess came up with one: a doggy bag! Phew, my blushes were spared, along with a mini-first-pump feeling of a free lunch tomorrow! (Which I enjoyed today.)

This wastage also hit home when I was in my favourite well-known UK bakers the other week. Ok, an admission of my guilty pleasure is coming – occasionally I treat myself to a yum yum pastry. But this time, out the corner of my eye, I noticed something. The lady had put an extra jam doughnut in my bag. Maybe she took pity on the skinny customer stood in front of her! I wasn’t going to complain. But why do this? “It’s the end of the day,” she said, “and I hate throwing away good food.” I looked at the array of cakes and pastries and then thought of the images I had recently seen on the news of the people of Yemen. This waste felt like an injustice, if not a transgression.

I replied with a frustrated affirmation of agreement for her feelings of helplessness. (I, too, had worked in a supermarket and seen how our appetite to have anything, anytime leads to bags of good food getting binned).

But lamenting aside, should we do anything about it? I believe, yes. And I have some simple suggestions because, after all, ‘every little helps.’

Selina Juul, an ordinary person, helped the nation of Denmark achieve an extraordinary 25% reduction of food waste. She did this by suggesting supermarkets drop multi-buy offers. She also published a leftovers cookbook. Why do this? Her reason was simple, because wasting food is disrespectful; it shows a lack of respect for nature, society, the people who produce the food, and for us – the people who waste our money by wasting food. We may not all be Selina, but we can all do something.

On a personal level, I try to finish what is on my plate and, although slightly boring, I have a weekly shopping list which remains the same, this way I have buying sufficient food for myself down to a tee.

I guess it comes down to applying a simple but practical principle I once noticed when reading about a meal catering for 5000 – easy to waste food here, but the caterer had other ideas: “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”[1]

It’s interesting to see even Jesus was a man who believed the principle: waste not; want not.

Notes:

[1] The Bible, John 6:12 (NIV)

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