Food Waste, Wasted Lives

When did we get to be so careless about food? If anything shouts, “Total biological decadence!” it’s food waste. Animals don’t waste food. They eat or leave it for some other creature. (I know, animals that form pantries – squirrels, foxes – sometimes lose their stashes, but usually some other critter finds it and eats it.) It seems so against our nature to waste what we need.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about food waste. We throw away at least 30% of our food production, mostly post-consumer. This goes into landfills where it becomes methane – a result of uncontrolled and inefficient decay. We often waste as many calories as we eat. Which means someone didn’t get to eat.

We can blame politics and infrastructure for famines; we can blame poor farming and conservation methods. But we can mostly blame ourselves, for hogging the food and then throwing it away. (Hogs are pretty efficient food converters, so it isn’t a good metaphor.)

But the governments (USA and Canada, pay attention) can get tanks and whole military bases to the Middle East reather quickly; why can” they get food supplies to the Sudan and Haiti? they could if they wanted to put the resources into it. These armies can keep armed civilian populations under some semblance of control; why can’t they control food ditribution so that it is equitable?

If the governments wanted to really wage war on poverty, they wouldn’t put billions of dollars into fighting a war of death.

We can do our part at home. Buy only what we need. Buy it fresh and unprocessed. Use it up, freeze it or give it away.

I am called to make this my cause of faith. I’ve been hungry and undernourished, more thanonce in my adult life. I’ve seen people and worked with them when they have been eating out of the dumpster behind MacDonald’s. I’ve given food to needy families right out of my own freezer and pantry. (And those who answered my calls to provide when I didn’t have enough at home to provide for others – God bless you!)

I’ll have more to say on this, and I’m going to include some links for your pperusal if you are interested,so stay in touch!

8 thoughts on “Food Waste, Wasted Lives

  1. I think I am still wasteful, but I try to be very aware of what I buy, how I buy, and how long it’s going to take me to use it. We don’t buy much meat – so that is often fully used. Any vegetables are either put in a scrap box in my freezer for stock making or taken out into the woods to compost (in secret since I can’t compost here).

    • It takes a while to work out your own shopping and cooking rhythm. And if you live with someone else – pesuade him to pay a bit of attention to what’s in the refrigerator. I used to get rid of chicken and turkey carcasses by dumping them in the hedgerow or the ravine – the coyotes got them! If I put them in the trash, the racoons would break into the shed and mayhem would ensue.

  2. We have tenants who get food boxes from the local food bank. They eat the goodies and toss the rest (canned generic veggies, rice, beans, milk powder, etc). Often we find this stuff left behind in an apartment. I’m not ashamed to say we take it and use it ourselves. Some families on food assistance eat much better than we do which frustrates me since it’s my taxes paying for it.

    • Yes, I’ve had the opportunity to scold people who asked for food supplements of some sort and then didn’t like what they got and would throw it away. To be fair, I then got in touch with the agencies and asked them to change what they gave that family so there would be less temptation to waste. But as a parish priest, I could do that. Some young people don’t know how to cook beans and rice, which is pathetic. I’ve suggested that churches set up test kitchens and cooking classes for people who never learned to cook, and not restrict the enrolment to those receiving food boxes. When I worked in a street ministry that delivered soup and sandwiches to poor neighborhoods, we were sometimes given cases of about to expire food from supermarkets. One week it was hummus and baba ghanouj – exotic but delicious. I took most of it home with me for my roommates to share!

  3. Magdelaina,

    Right on target!! And all the more shameful is it when we consider that our heavnely Father has provided us with this beautiful creation, enough for everybody, but it is we who wreck it, from distructive and unsustainable farming practices to disgraceful distribution. I’ve read somewhere that even with our population as it is, worldwide, enough food is produced each year to feed EVERY man woman and child twice, or even three times over. but so much of it is chucked!! Its one thing to consider our home pantry or refrigerator; the giant supermarket chains ought to be shot!! Did you know, that in Australia, something like two thirds of bananas are rejected by the big two supermarket chains (yes, the govt. has permitted an aggressive duopoly here) simply because their hellbound marketing strategists & fellow stooges think they won’t sell because of shape!! Its nothing to do with colouration, blemishes or imperfections, but shape!! needless to say, shopper surveys have shown again and again that the customer doesn’t care about the shape, as long as the fruit is available!! We are at threat of losing so many species of domestic plant and animal that have served us faithfully for centuries!! Not only this, but it is criminal that seed stock has been caraaled by Monsanto and the like, forcing farmers to become enslaved to greedy, selfish, (satanic in my thinking) global jugganauts that don’t care a whit about food as the right of all, but only for their bottom line and the profit they’ll yeild to their shareholders!!!!!! Terminator seeds are a crime against humanity, I say, a crime!!!!!! And I’ll not be silent!! Sorry people, but I am horrified at the way it has all played out!! As in the times of ancient Israel when prophet after prophet cried out against injustice toward the poor, the widow, the orphan, while those in power ( religious hierarchy and state alike) simply carried on, noses in the trough, as though nothing was wrong, so it is today!!

    As if a few low emition lightbulbs and hybrid cars (Battery useage in these is in fact, eccologically fraugilant – batteries are one of the most toxic and environmentally dangerous things we can manufacture – from creation to disposal) is actually going to help!! We need to completely reform the way we think about and utilize that fragile and essential gift God has given us – farmland!! Many of the practices and technologies that have come to pas since WWII are simply unsustainable; even the way we produce food for cities; within a decade after WWII, 40% of Sydney’s food production was undertaken within the sydney Basin alone!! Now it is down into the single digit figures as prime agricultural land is bulldozed for housing developments on the driest inhabited continent on Earth!! This dangerous practice, with no signs of stoping, is an endemic tragedy going on in all our capital cities!!

    People out there who might be reading this, stop the rot, lest God’s promise in the book of Revelation “I will destroy those who destroy the Earth’ comes to pass!!

    keep these articles coming; additionlly, I will continue to pray for a job to come your way and soon.



    • Well, Sarah, I couldn’t say it better myself, I suppose. Certainly not with such passion! This must be horrifying in Australia – there’s a limit to arable land there, and growing population. Doesn’t anyone ever say, “Hello, that’s next decade’s beans and tomatoes? Where do you think we’re going to grow food – in the ocean?”

  4. Magdelaina,


    yes, the powers that be have no qualms about food dependancy upon another nation if its cheap and in the interests of ‘global trade’ an oxymoron if ever I heard one!!!!

    Additionally, farming is pushed out into ever more marginal areas far more prone to drought, desertification or salinity. irrigation is then necessary to water all of this, causing unsustainable burdens to be placed on an already super-fragile river system; the Murray-Darling basin is a prime example of such damage. meanwhile we’re buldozing oranges into the ground and importing mandarin juice from the Americas!!

    They carry on about opening up our tropical North as the next great foodbowl, but anybody with a penny’s worth of sense can see where that will go!! And no, nobody says a word!! the govt. types just emit hot air and doublespeak, the local councils can see only $$$ from a hundred thousand rate payers where once a few dozen farmers were…

    God help us!!

    isn’t there a passage in the latter part of the OT that states clearly ‘The people perish where there is no vision!!’



    • So Australia jumps on the same boat as the USA – where we’ve had innumerable food recalls concerning contamination in China. I will not buy food from Asia anymore, no matter how cheap the canned goods are. Look, the best we can do is start growing our own food at home. I try to get some planted, no matter where we are. There are lots of resources on how to do this, even how to reclaim your grey water to irrigate it. (This may be illegal in some places! You don’t always get to use the water you paid for! But I’d be sneaky about it – like plugging the tub while taking a shower, and bucketing the catch out to the garden at night.) I’ve used my wash water to water the garden – since I used tubs on the patio, and when I washed wool, it certainly went into the garden, no reason to throw away all that fertilizer. Composting is free – but in suburban/urban areas you will need a covered and secure composter, since critters will move in if you start a big country-style pile. You can make a covered composter from scrap lumber, which you salvage out of the neighbours’ curbside heaps on big garbage day. We built two sheds that way.

      We are all having to become urban Amish.

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