Went to the local farmers' market the other evening. In one of the regular fruit stands, a woman was cutting up pineapples, a nice service for those of us afraid to cut ourselves in the process. But the waste piled up - some of which could have been eaten.
No surprise there. But since so much money could be saved, not to mention the ever-diminishing available area in landfills, you have to wonder how this problem has gotten so out of hand.
Abundance must do something critical to the human brain, more than just causing us to salivate, in the case of fresh food. It causes us to take chances, which we wouldn't dare do in times of scarcity. (Wasteful people in famines get hungrier faster, and probably die sooner.)
I wonder if the sight of multiple items of the same category - such as the squashes below - creates different responses from , say, an all-you-can-eat buffet with a variety of items?
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Why should they have worried up to now? When something does not require your attention by being irregular, even occasionally difficult or nonexistent, we stop thinking about it.
Well, maybe now we will stop taking our food for granted.
Sure, the subject has come up many times over the decades of our supposed wealth and prosperity. But the talk has mostly been a part of aid programs to other countries. Those "other countries" are still hungry or nearly so, but now we have ceased to regard a steady flow of foods and food products from producer to consumer as a given.
People are talking more about old-school solutions to food insecurity, to add to the new-fangled ideas dreamed up by scientists and politicians:
- Home gardens;
- Community gardens;
- Urban agriculture (as in parts of Cuba);
- Alternative foods (see below);
- Better versions of existing crops;
- Different ways of growing all sorts of crops, such as intercropping - the old way mostly tropical farmers will plant two to four species all together, thus minimizing sun damage, water loss, invertebrate and vertebrate predation, and weeds.
And what about "alternative foods"? As John Vidal says in his article in The Guardian, insects and lab-grown meat may provide most of our protein one day. The husbandry of large animals like cattle may become undeniably unsustainable, due to loss of pasture to drought, loss of feed to direct human consumption (instead of indirect, i.e., via the cow which eats it first), and low water supplies. (Cattle require loads of water to drink in their lifetimes, and the slaughtering process is also very water-intensive.)
As the human population continues to grow, and most people insist on animal protein every or nearly every day, we're going to have to find solutions.
Grasshopper soufflé anyone?