Food waste is in shock­ing taste

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION -

IN A week of ham­mer blows to con­sumers, with a hail of re­ports of in­ex­orable price in­creases, comes per­haps the cru­ellest of all: the amount of food we waste, ac­cord­ing to the House­hold Food Waste Dis­posal Study this week.

We’re sup­posed to be the El Do­rado of Africa, the bread­bas­ket of the con­ti­nent, but sadly more than a fifth of us go to bed hun­gry ev­ery night – 12 mil­lion peo­ple. To cap it all, we are the big­gest wasters of food be­tween Cape Town and Cairo – 30%, al­most a third, of the food that is pro­duced in South Africa is not eaten, be­cause we buy too much and then it goes off and has to be thrown away.

We of­ten buy too much food, be­cause it’s on spe­cial or we buy too much food or make too much pap, be­cause our liveli­hoods are so busy that th­ese are the most con­ve­nient sta­ples to have in the house to ei­ther pre-pre­pare meals for the week or slap a quick meal to­gether.

When we waste food, we also waste all the ef­fort, en­ergy and time that have gone in to mak­ing the food, trans­port­ing it to the shops and our own en­ergy, time, ef­fort and cost that have gone into buy­ing it and pre­par­ing it. As we waste more, we buy more to survive, for­ever push­ing up in­fla­tion in a vi­cious cy­cle in which those who can least af­ford it get squeezed even tighter.

We can make a dif­fer­ence, we can shop more wisely and we can en­sure we pre­pare our old­est food first, while we still can and be­fore it needs to be thrown out.

We can also think more in­no­va­tively about ei­ther in­cor­po­rat­ing left­overs into our meal plan­ning or avoid­ing hav­ing left­over food al­to­gether.

The bot­tom line, though, is we can­not blithely waste so much food, when we live in a coun­try where the gulf be­tween those who have and those who don’t is so vast and many go to bed with an empty stom­ach.

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