A New Mindset

Many will have no doubt heard of the recent report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers finding that as much as 2 billion tons of food, about half the food produced, doesn’t make it to our tables. What has not been as publicized are the reasons for the waste and the suggested remedy. The reasons go to the values that make our culture what it is and involve the expectations of good looking produce. The report found about 30% of vegetable crops are not harvested because they fail to meet retailers’ exact standards of physical appearance. Another finding is that about half the food that is bought in Europe and the U.S. is thrown away by consumers. Part of the problem generated by the waste is the corresponding waste of the water used to sustain crops that then do not do what they are to do. The waste of water is estimated as 2.5 to 3.5 times greater than the total human use of fresh water in a day and could lead to even more dangerous water shortages around the world. To prevent all this waste, the IMechE report suggests that governments, development agencies and organizations like the UN must all work together to help change people’s mindsets and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers. Regardless of who ends up doing what, wouldn’t a changed mindset begin with us?