Monday, 31 January 2011

Waste not want not - Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt

I grew up to the litany of "Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt, ist des Talers nicht wert", loosely translatable as "waste not want not". My parents grew up during the war and lived through the war and post war years of rather a lot of want. As a consequence, nothing was wasted in our home and every spend was monitored and accounted for. Things were kept until they broke, we opened presents carefully to save the wrapping for next year. No scrap of food was ever thrown away but warmed up and included in the next meal. And my dad got all the out of date food, poor soul.

While my own parents had experienced hunger as children, I didn't. We weren't rich, but we also weren't poor. Ok, we didn't keep up with my richer peers at school whose parents held industrial jobs. We had no car but we had an annual holiday from when I was 7. I had less toys than others and we lived in a flat, but I played with our landlady's grandchild and his toys, or with my school friend on her farm, and my parents had a massive allotment (shared with a Turkish family). There were no trips to swimming pools but I attended music school and later, after years of pestering, was granted my wish to go horseriding.

I was shaped by the waste not want not philosophy of my parents. I still feel very strongly that it's wrong to throw food away. Just that the reasoning behind that has slightly shifted - it's no longer the starving children in Africa (yes, that was said in my house) but the knowledge that on the big scale of things, food production does not feed our world, that food production which feeds our wasteful and gluttonous part of the world is fuelled by unsustainable resources and that it's disrespectful to our fellow human beings who do not have the resources to feed themselves. More than that, the constant reminder of the possibility of leaner years to come which my parents testified through their own experience taught me never to take what we have for granted.

I'm still convinced that wastefulness is not a good thing, particularly in our generation. The temptation is almost irresistable, what with massive supermarkets, and everything being available just around the corner. It's an illusion of plenty.

This is why Hugh's Fish Fight has really struck a chord with me, as well as the initiative to get knobbly vegetables back onto the shelves of European supermarkets. As if it wasn't bad enough that one third of all food in supermarkets is wasted by consumers overbuying or supermarkets chucking away surplus (one third! this is food straight forwardly wasted and dumped, emitting green house gases too, nevermind the cost of production), European regulations have resulted in throwing away half the fish caught and vegetables that don't comply to quotas or preset shapes. Fish caught and food grown (both of which is a hard job) is chucked. For No.Good.Reason.At.All.

This has to change. It's stupid, disrespectful and unnecessary.
So please take a minute today, or tomorrow, but please don't put it off, and support two very worthwhile campaigns.
You can sign up to Hugh's Fish fight here, and follow on Facebook. If  you want fun and tasty knobbly vegetables on your plate rather than in the bin, support the National Trust and Delicious initiative and ask your MEP to make his/her influence in Europe count. Also please consider sharing through your own networks. You could blog about it, tell your facebooky friends, tweet about it if you're a better tweeter than me, and do whatever else may get some much needed support to stop this nonsense.

Thank you!!!



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