Just imagine if all the leftovers and food scraps we toss were put in the hands of someone who needs it, instead of letting it disappear as food waste.
It’s estimated that 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, with one human being dying of starvation every 3.6 seconds. Let that sink in. Now be prepared to feel sick: roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.
That’s the connection the Cork Food Policy Council (CFPC) hopes to drive home on March 15th. On that day, the organization will feed 5,000 people in Cork City, Ireland using only produce that would normally be sent to the landfill by supermarkets that deem it too “unattractive” for retail sale.
The CFPC’s “Feed the City” event will feature six hours of activities designed to educated citizens about just how much food waste is generated by a grocery industry that feels compelled to “protect” the public from curvy carrots, spotted bananas, and soft tomatoes. The event will culminate in a public meal in which 5,000 free servings of vegetarian curry will be handed out to participants.
“It’s estimated that roughly around a third of food is wasted in this country every year. In America enough is wasted to feed around four million people every day. A lot of it is left to rot because of shape, colour, size and blemishes as retailers have set certain standards,” Dr. Colin Sage, CPFC chairman, told the Irish Examiner.
Sage suggests that some of this food waste occurs because we’ve become completely out of touch with how food is grown. If you’ve ever had a garden, it’s likely that you consumed all of the harvest, regardless of what it looks like. But when someone else does all the growing hundreds of miles away, and our first contact with food is the display at the grocery store, there’s pressure to “market” by making everything look unnaturally perfect.
Of course, when cooked into a delicious vegetarian curry, there’s no way to tell how spotted, soft, or curvy your produce was. All you know is that it tastes delicious. “We want that food in the food chain. Food surpluses should be distributed to people who need it,” said Dr. Sage, adding that he’d like to see “farmers linking up with community groups to form ‘food hubs’ whereby food which doesn’t conform to certain shapes and sizes is distributed to communities at wholesale prices.”
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