Behind our food drags a long and tangled chain of waste


Behind our food drags a long and tangled chain of waste

Rubbish is built into the system because profit is the prime motive of powerful food corporations

Andrea Burgener

For most of us lucky enough to have a kitchen to cook in, Covid-19 times have meant we’ve had a bit of a snotklap about food waste. With almost every meal eaten at home, if not also cooked there, and with the urgent hunger of those without food and kitchens right outside, it is, thankfully, unavoidable.

Suddenly the failed homemade loaf squatting on the counter threatening to develop mould has new value. Yay for us, using the old bread for French toast instead of binning it, right? Actually, doing that should be a given. What’s scary is that a far larger volume of food waste lies out of sight and we’re as complicit in it as we are in the chucking of old crusts, in strange and tangled ways. 

We’re making savings at the end of a very long chain in which waste occurs at every stage. The amounts are extraordinary, hard to compute and often surprising. Fruit and vegetables, for example, which we associate with the cleanest and greenest way of living, are the most wasteful food group — on average 45% is wasted across the chain...

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