Friday, January 25, 2013
WITH millions struggling to feed themselves all over the world – and even in this country in these tough times – it is shocking and scandalous to hear that up to half the world’s food is wasted.
WHEN I asked Suffolk Coastal how much it cost to run Felixstowe Leisure Centre each year, the council couldn’t tell me.
Neither does anything on its website, as far as I can see.
I could find out that chief executive Stephen Baker earns £128,061 a year, that strategic director Tony Osmanski takes home £82,236 and head of planning Philip Ridley £69,895, but not what it costs to run a building my council tax pays for.
The closest I could get to the truth was that more than £800,000 a year is paid to contractors to run Felixstowe and Leiston leisure centres, Deben Pools and Brackenbury.
Anything more precise was deemed “commercially sensitive” for those involved – even though it’s our money being spent.
Food thrown away by families buying or cooking too much, meals unfinished in restaurants, and supermarkets – the worst culprits –because it’s passed its sell-by date, or left in the fields to rot because it doesn’t come up to the standard demanded by fussy consumers.
With the population increasing unstoppably, and land being taken for homes, solar farms and crops for bio-fuels, the pressure is on to feed the world.
According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers two billion tonnes a year is thrown away each year, including half the food bought in Europe and the USA.
In the UK 30 per cent of vegetables grown are simply not harvested because of their physical appearance.
One farmer on TV displayed a handful of spring onions – three-quarters of which would never be eaten because the supermarkets said they were not large enough, bent instead of straight, tops gnawed by an insect. Edible, but not perfect. Not what customers expect to find on the shelves.
His swedes were deemed too small, and his cauliflowers had slight imperfections. His lettuces were left to rot in the field because the supply chain had too many.
If we had grown any of these vegetables in our gardens, we would have eaten them without a thought – sliced off the discoloured bit of cauli, couldn’t care less that a swede was small, not worried by something being less than straight as long as it tasted just as good.
It is particularly galling when you look at the churches and other charity groups in Felixstowe and Ipswich working hard to run emergency stores to provide food parcels for recession-hit families who cannot afford food.
Coming from a background where you never left a scrap because it cost money and could not be wasted to hear that people routinely throw food in the bin is shocking.
If we are to feed the extra three billion the population is expected to grow by in the next 60 years then we all have to change our habits, mindsets, and supermarkets will have to set their standards aside and start using what is grown.