Tristram Stuart: The Global Food Waste Scandal

I spent some time yesterday reading about the effects of Hurricane Sandy and was surprised (but not really) by a few articles mentioning “starvation” and how terrible it was that NYC residents had resorted to “dumpster diving.” While acknowledging the severity of the storm, I did wonder — with the long build up to it and many storm warnings — why so many residents had so little food supplies on hand that three days into the event meant “starvation.” With the current economy, maybe some of those people really didn’t have the means to buy food beyond a day or so ahead. I do pray that Sandy becomes a wake-up call for people to stock up on food and preferably have some growing on a window sill. Seeds cost little to nothing if you gather them or save them from organic produce. Herbs take little light to grow but provide medicinal as well as nutritional benefits. Sprouts provide protein and huge amounts of living enzymes, amplifying the nourishment of shelf-stable items.

It also occurred to me that “dumpster diving” in NYC during a disaster was just smart, not the outrage some sources seemed to believe. With all the restaurants and high end foodies there, most “waste” likely means “perfectly consumable but not aesthetically pleasing enough for gourmet fare.” I have never gone dumpster diving, but I know some surprising people who have. Known as “freegans,” they managed to eat quite well on almost zero cash. If you contact places before they actually throw the food away, then so much the better. I also know of businesses who make arrangements to buy old produce from co-ops so that they can turn it into yummy and nutritious fermented veggies and kraut. Ordinary people can do the same. Consider it a way to save pennies on ordinary grocery shopping, which can then allow for the occasional extra can of food for an emergency. While pondering this in the back of my mind, I had to smile when David just happened to pull up this TED Talk on “The Global Food Waste Scandal.”

Regardless of its cause — natural or severely weather manipulated by HAARP — Hurricane Sandy offers us a chance to reevaluate our daily lives. While sending love, protection and healing to those in Sandy’s wake, we can run through mental checklists of how we might better prepare ourselves for weather events. We can also look at ways we might lighten the burden we expect Mother Earth to carry for us. Gaia is a living, breathing entity. The Hopi prophecies predict more extreme weather events, but they mention that those living in accord with the ancient ways, those who honor the Earth, will find themselves personally spared of the devastation.

We have influence over how much Gaia feels the need to shake and purge. We can stop fracking. Stop drilling. Reduce our daily dependance on oil and other resources. We can live hyper-locally, grow our own organic foods, support local, organic farmers, lessen or eliminate our dependance on animal foods … and … according to Tristam Stuart, we can rethink how we define food waste.

Thoughts to ponder:

2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the reminder about this important topic Laura! I think it is ironic that so many dumpsters are locked outside of restaurants and it seems iconic.

    When we were in Bulgaria visiting my in-laws, we left for a short vacation. When we came back, all the vegetables that we had purchased had been pickled by my mother-in-law and all the scraps of food go to the chickens. I have a lot to learn on this topic.

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    • That’s great! I remember your post about how they grow different types of peppers that dry well by hanging, too. We are so wasteful in America. I have a lot to learn on this topic, too. I have a book called, “Root Cellaring,” which I intend to delve into more fully once we have a larger garden setup. I know different types of squash and other produce lend themselves better to long term storage. We actually have a root cellar in our new place. It’s a bit musty, so I’m not sure if we’ll use it, but if we can get it aired out, I would love to start cold storing things over the winter, in addition to pickling and dehydrating. Thanks for commenting!

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