Food waste is in shocking taste
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.