6. Waste

Posted by Carolyn on June 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

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When it comes to food, what we waste, and why we waste it, is a direct product of our attitudes: the degree to which we understand or value what we eat. It’s part of our gastronomic culture – and the fact that British households throw away a third of the food they buy tells you everything you need to know about ours.

Our industrial past in Britain has disconnected us with food, and despite the recent so-called ‘foodie revolution’, the majority of us neither understand food nor care about it much. We waste 10 billion pound’s worth of food every year because we don’t see food for what it is: the most important thing in our lives. But food waste is not limited to what we throw away – the entire modern food system is predicated on it, from the way we produce food, transport it, store it, cook it and eat it. At the scale of the city, our attitudes towards food determine how well we fit into a natural organic cycle – as we must all ultimately do to survive.

Crossness Pumping Station designed by engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette

In the pre-industrial world, cities recycled almost all their waste. Since most of it was the direct product of the food system anyway, that was much easier to do. Today it’s much harder for us to sort out our waste. Industrialisation has made it a far more complex problem, and post-industrial cities have generally evolved into one-way consuming machines. However some cities, such as Vienna, where 60 per cent of household waste is recycled, have shown what can be done. Waste, after all, is just a matter of attitude.

2 Responses

  1. Center for Advancement of Recreation and Leisure Says:

    Agnès Varda has a great documentry on food waste-The Gleaners and I. The film tracks a series of gleaners as they hunt for food, knicknacks, and personal connection. Varda travels French countryside and city to find and film not only field gleaners, but also urban gleaners and those connected to gleaners, including a wealthy restaurant owner whose ancestors were gleaners

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yzv50QVMrE Says:

    Through the process of manufacturing, distribution or consumption, food is wasted in epic quantities. If the UK eliminated their household food waste, it would be the carbon equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road. Philip Firsov and ITV Fixers have joined forces to create a short documentary which looks at the issue of food waste. In the same vein as ‘Food Inc’, and ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’, ‘Food for Thought’ examines the reasons behind this ‘throw away’ attitude and aims to inspire people to rethink their attitude towards binning things.

    We will be holding a screening for this at Pushkin house in Bloomsbury Square on Monday March 21st at 6pm, which will be followed by a discussion with the film makers. Refreshments (of a not wasteful kind) will be provided.

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