Tag Archives: groceries

Enviro Blog Post 3: The Food Industry Paradox

24 Apr

Here are some paradoxes that constitute the basis of the food crisis:

  1. Agriculture is entirely dependent on fresh water for its subsistence. Yet, agriculture wastes 60% or 1,500 trillion liters, of the 2,500 trillion liters of water it uses each year.
  1. 805 million people struggle with hunger everyday around the world, 1.2 billion people are undernourished and live in extreme poverty and yet 33% of all the food produced on the planet is wasted.
  1. The cost of wasted food amounts to $750 billion every year. The cost of ending world hunger has been estimated by the United Nations to be $30 billion every year.
  1. 28% of farmland grows food that will be thrown away due to them not meeting the standards of perfection that make them desirable to consumers according to supermarket chains. This quest for perfection apparently does not apply to making the world a better place for everyone.

The more I think about it, the more ridiculous our food system seems to me. I wonder, “how does any of this make sense?” and then I remember, the goal of Industrial Agriculture is not to feed the world, it is to maximize profit and that is probably the biggest paradox of all and the root of all the other problematic paradoxes of that industry.We are talking of an industry who spends more money and energy on perpetuating unrealistic expectations of fruits and vegetables than on actually feeding the hungry. It is fundamentally wrong.

profit

Fortunately, some people are fighting back the trend of food waste: a French supermarket chain, Intermarché, has launched the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables initiative- selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables with a 30% discount- in an attempt to fight food waste; similarly Jamie Oliver working with Asda, a UK-based supermarket chain, have introduced oddly-shaped fruits and vegetables at a discounted price in the retailer’s aisles. This practice might be new among big retail chains, but it is already a common one for locally based, smaller organic retailers like Real Food Connections in Fredericton, to sell vegetables rejected by big chains at a discounted price. Honestly, I don’t understand where this obsession with the physical perfection of food comes from. 65% of Asda customers who answered a poll were in favor of buying unconventionally shaped food for a cheaper price. A weird potato can still make a good mash, a crooked carrot can make delicious soup, a bruised orange will not make bruised juice. By now we should all know that what counts is inner beauty not outer beauty, especially when inner beauty is delicious and just as nutritious. 

weird apple

As for me, this chapter turned out to be a motivation to be smarter when it comes to food, and not just in the healthy way. Wasting food contributes considerably to global warming so I believe it is important that everybody takes a minute to think about how their personal food habits impacts the planet. It would not be very hard to buy just what we need from sources that care about the environment and to eat what we buy without trashing unspoiled food.

However, would we make a difference if we all changed our ways? Possibly. But the biggest change would have to come from the industry of paradoxes. After all, most of the food wasted in countries like India and Bangladesh, are lost before it even reaches the customers due to poor stocking capacity. That does not mean we should just give up on changing our ways because we have the numbers on our side, we can make a difference just through the laws of demand and supply simply by shopping wiser. If we buy less, they won’t have to produce as much and hopefully there will be some new balance in this world.

WOE_155WastedFood1

Advertisements