According to Love Food Hate Waste “the UK throws away 7 million tonnes of food away every year, half of which was still good to eat”. Such figures are hard to comprehend on the face of it, and might make some actually feel less guilty about not finishing up their leftovers; because well…everybody else is doing the same, what does my waste matter?
However, when viewed alongside figures from the World Food Programme that “795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead an active healthy life”, it puts the reality of food waste in this country in a global context. Most of these people are from developing countries, and the stark contrast between their lack of food and our over-abundance is a reminder of why food waste is symptomatic of far bigger global issues.
Food waste is therefore not just an environmental issue it is a moral issue. Most people in the UK or other developed countries will no doubt identify with pangs of hunger, when their daily life delays the ability to eat for longer than their body cares. But imagine that being a daily or hourly occurrence, spread over not just a few days, but over weeks, months and years. This is even more distressing when processed alongside an awareness of our own food profligacy.
In truth, one can’t really ‘imagine’ that, it can only be understood when lived. But one can imagine how much food they waste a day or week, and then times that by the 64 million odd people who also have access to the UK’s food abundance to realise that in our globalised world. Not to mention the fact that many of these so called developed countries only have such plentiful resources by buying cheap commodities from these developing countries where food waste is only a sick dream or nightmare.
As somebody who is forever questioning and always searching for some form of answer, however limiting it will be, I am already certain that no answer to why this reality exists is morally ok, regardless of what moral compass you live by.
This is exactly why I am getting involved in Zero Waste Week, and have pledged to reduce my own food waste at home. Because I’m sure we are all too aware that a small morsel of food waste may mean nothing in the grander scheme of things to us, but when it is times by 64 million it is a stark reminder that every bit of food could mean life or death for others.