Curbing food waste - A failure to teach or cherish

PEOPLE of a certain age will recall parents or grandparents demanding that plates be cleaned at every meal and that not a scrap of food be allowed go to waste. 

This was not parsimony or even an early outbreak of foodie enthusiasm, but the hard-learnt lesson that abundance is the exception rather than the norm across the great span of human history.

They would have been appalled at today’s unthinking waste of food and find it utterly incomprehensible that we, on average, waste €400 worth of food each year — nearly a month’s supply.

There are myriad reasons. Time-scarce lifestyles, the increase in the use of prepared meals, a can’t-cook reliance on convenience foods or takeaways and the misuse of refrigeration. Poor shopping habits and meal planning also play a significant part.

Each of us has returned from a shopping trip wondering why we bought half a dozen iffy avocados even if they were, we were assured, half-price bargains.

Food waste seems an affront to basic values and it is laudable that supermarkets share unsold food with charities all around the country.

This canary-in-the-mine dysfunction reaches some sort of low-point in America where 40% of all food produced is wasted while as many as 50m Americans face food insecurity.

Food waste is, most of all, a failure in education, a failure to train our children to enjoy but respect and sustain the riches of our world.


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