Food Waste 101

Hegemony, gender, and how a shared meal can help

The subtitle of this blog is, Hegemony, gender, and how a shared meal can help. However, after starting this blog nearly a year ago, i found its focus quickly drawn more to social justice issues than the actual ins-and-outs of food handling. I did initially published a few of my recipes and a photo or two to match, but found when i was not actually cooking, i was engaged more by the topic of “What are the myriad obstacles to getting people fed?” than by “What am i going to cook today?” It is not that i did not want to talk about recipes, and the like. I in deed felt some what sheepish about the title of the blog in view of the fact that in seldom actually talked about the handling of food itself, and often wondered how i was going to bring to the forefront what all this moaning about the state of the world has to do with cooking, until i read the following … Johnson, Kristina: 6 Food Waste Myths Dispelled In: On: November 2014. Last viewed: 14 Nov 2014.

Here was the missing link … that is to say, it is what is not addressed in the article mentioned above that struck me. Here some thoughts …

A nice food-use 101, but in the section “3. Myth: we need to grow more food to end world hunger” i miss at least an allusion to structural inequality, and political will as factors that affect hunger. It is nice that we are teaching wasteful people to slow down, but in and of itself that is largely cosmetic and once again aimed at making those-who-have feel good about themselves.

Okay, okay. People have come to expect a feel-good motivational strategy. Without it, chances are few would read about food waste at all. But without some soul searching on the cui bono of domestic social, and world wide political injustice and how access to food and clean water is part of the discussion. Food is world politics and business, often even used as a weapon (eg. using sanctions and arms deals alternately over decades to achieve ones foreign policy goals as in Sudan to name just one example.)At the same time there is domestic malnutrition. No i do not mean whether kids eat to many chocolate bars. In as much as our economies have an interest in inexpensive labor, we not only have no interest in addressing social in equality, there is an inherent motivation in our way of doing business to keep at least some part of the work force poor so as to serve as a source low-cost employees. Poverty and malnutrition often go hand in hand.These sorts of mechanisms are what i mean when i say structural inequality and political will. Commerce and politics have no real interest in ending hunger, because it is a strong motivator. People who are hungry will do anything at all to get something to eat.

It is upon us who are not starving, to use our freedom from want not just to feel good about ourselves, but also to actively question our way of doing business, our governments’ foreign policies, and how our personal expectations, and (in)actions dictate the decisions governments and the business world make. In spite of our endless contentions to the contrary, business people and policy-makers are in fact doing exactly our bidding. They are providing us (relatively well-off to extremely well-off people) with exactly what we demand: a care-free and comfortable existence in which we do not have to give much of anything a second thought, least of all whether we throw out an apple or not.

So-o-o … now that everyone who did not already agree with me to begin with has tuned-out. I won’t even get into the bit with feeding pigs slew. Anyone who has a couple of piggies can do so, if they don’t get caught. However, those of us who have actually seen a contemporary pig farm will know why swill is not the feed of choice: messy, unreliable, nutritional value incalculable, potentially contaminated with cleaning chemicals, physical objects and microbes … The fact that one Las Vegas area farmer makes it a point to feed scraps and argues with public support an infrastructure could be put in place. Dear Friends, the last thing “the public” will be eager to support (ie. pay extra for) any time soon is large scale infrastructure of any kind. Hence this idea is likely to remain at best a niche product for those whose sense of purpose, or self-worth involves paying more than others for special food. (And yes, i include myself in this high-profile, low-impact minority.) Slopping pigs is nice – next proposal, please.

And that, Dear Friends, is why i do what i do, and what this blog is about.

Image: Waste not, Want not. Author: Unknown. Sponsor: Canada Food Board. Publisher: Howell Lith., Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Licensing: This Canadian work is in the public domain in Canada because its copyright has expired. Date: between 1914 and 1918. h Last viewed: 14 Nov 2014.

Image: Scavenging after Sandy. Author: Mr.choppers. Creative Commons licence 3.0 CC BY SA. Uploaded: 1 Nov 2012. URL: Last viewed: 14 Nov 2014.

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