Saturday, July 17, 2010

Waste and Dumpster Diving

Our modern societies are deeply marked by the abundance of everything, cars, houses, phones and computers...and food.´We have never been producing so much food before. According to Jean Ziegler, UN special rapporteur, human societies are producing enough food to feed 12 billions people. And yet, there are more than a billion of human beings suffering from hunger around the world. "This is why a child that dies from famine is murder." Ziegler adds finally. This tragedy is related to different causes, food is over-produced in Europe with large subsidies from the EU, as a result Africans can't compete and are obliged to buy European food much more expensive; from this over-production in the world, a huge part is given to the cattles who have sometimes a much better life than human beings - over one-third of the world’s cereals are being used as animal feed ; and finally the abundance of food in Europe and United States generates huge amount of waste.

Waste...a simple action, something we do everyday in the modern societies without even realizing it. A report from the UN, entitled The Environmental Food crises: Environment's role in averting future food crises, shows that "up to 50 per cent of food produced in the US is wasted, while a third of food purchased in the UK is never eaten. Meanwhile, food losses in developing world are similarly high with an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of potential harvests lost as a result o pests and pathogens." The situation is critical. It is evident today that we could feed the whole world by just managing better our food.

Obviously, solutions exist. The report advised on the suppression of agriculture subsidies, reduction of the production of livestock, development of organic farms against with prohibition of pesticides that spoiled the lands and management more efficient of water. However, us, the people cannot wait for these measure to be taken. It is our responsibilities to act today in our daily life giving echo to Gandhi's famous phrase: "we are the change we want to see in the world". Indeed, the first step to reverse this absurd situation is to change our behaviours. Food is valuable, it is precious, it is expensive both for the human beings and the planet.

Some tips to reduce food waste:
-Buy only what you need for the next 2 or 3 days
-Share your food with your neighbours and friends
-Keep your fridge at 1-5 degrees to make chilled food last for longer
-Use your leftover vegetables to make a delicious soup
-Watch your portion sizes and make sure plates are being completely cleared at mealtimes
-Froze the leftovers such as vegetables cut in small pieces.

For the most adventurous one, there is a great alternatives to reduce your own waste...and the waste of others...dumpster diving is a growing practice that aims to explore the bins of restaurants and supermarkets to collect the food that has been thrown away the same day and is still proper for consumption. It is a great experience and when you start it you'll never stop! There are plenty of food sleeping in the bins at night especially behind the supermarkets that throw away huge quantities of vegetables, pastries and other dairy products. You will save money, help reducing the waste of this supermarket, make delicious recycled meal, making a good action for the humans and the planet. When the trash doesn't attract you so much you can also directly go to the owners of the restaurants and bakery -those are great they always have bread left and give it away pretty easily!- and simply ask for leftovers.

During our great journey, the Locomotive of Freedom, we have been dumpster diving for more than 5 months non-stop and we have never been eating so well in our life. Very expensive stuff are thrown away...even delicious cakes and exotic fruits... Here again, the first step is the hardest. Once you get over the prejudices of the people and understand that what you are doing is actually good for the planet and its inhabitants, it is easy as going into a supermarkets...with the difference that you will always be surprised and amazed by what you find!

To check more on this you can see the Trashwiki and a wonderful documentaries about young conscious citizens who dumpster dive.

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