Huge quantities of food going to waste

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Thinking of how well we ate yesterday and how I ate some of the leftovers for lunch today, it is terrible to think about how much food is wasted every day. 

In the El Financiero newspaper today there is a big report on how much food goes to waste, they talk about 21.7% of all food produced, which is appalling. According to this report 230 million tons of food products are produced nationally, of which nearly 50 million tons are wasted. Out of this amount nearly 16 million tons are fruit and vegetables. That is astonishing. However, I am sure that Mexico is not alone in this despicable wastage but of course it sounds truly terrible here since there are so many people who are hungry or who have little to eat or who have to struggle every single day to produce a meal. 

It seems that the causes vary according to the country and those nations that are in development, like Mexico, the wastage more commonly occurs during production, or after the harvesting of the products, or in their processing. It seems that in developed countries, like the UK or the US, the problem lies more with the consumer, who has a highly developed dreadful habit of using and throwing away, of chucking out any food that’s left over rather than eating it on another occasion. That certainly does not seem to happen in Mexico, or at least not nearly as much. In my particular case, we were always brought up to eat everything served on our plate and to never throw away what was left over, unless it was bones (which we always gave to the cats) or fish bones (that were buried in the garden). So, lucky for me, I do not throw things out. If something does go bad then it either goes straight in the compost or if only a bit ‘iffy’ then the dogs eat it and with great gusto.

It seems that we use nearly 33% of our income to spend on food, according to a survey that was done in 2010, so maybe we should think about that a bit.

In Mexico there is a wonderful organisation called the Banco de Alimentos (food bank), which has a presence all around the country in 65 distribution points, and to which many companies and businesses donate food for distribution among the needy. In 2012 the Banco de Alimentos “rescued” more than 116,000 tons of food, through supermarkets and markets, and so were able to benefit nearly 1 million 200,000 Mexicans.

I think that a lot of the problem with food being chucked out is based on the belief that the sell by date is final.I am not against the sell by date, of course not, it is very necessary, but I think that there shouldn't be such a blind obedience to it; it's a personal choice, of course. There are so many products like milk and cheese and bread and cereals that last far longer than their sell by dates but people are nervous about that. What this means of course is that all these products are stuffed full of preservatives and chemicals and so it’s practically impossible that they should go off. Of course, we shouldn’t be eating them, but that’s a whole separate issue. 

Anyway, next time you sit down to eat, think about the food on your plate and remember never ever to waste food. Please.

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