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Throwaway food: what can be done about it?

by melo Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 04:38:22 PM EST

Waste is everywhere, but none so obviously reflective of unconsciousness perhaps than this...

Supermarket waste hits new high

1.6m tonnes of food goes to landfill each year, sustainability watchdog reports

By Susie Mesure
Sunday, 10 February 2008

An 18-month study found that "too many supermarket practices are still unhealthy, unjust and unsustainable"<

The Government must get tougher with supermarkets if it is to tackle Britain's growing mountain of food waste, a report on Labour's sustainable food policies will warn this week.

The warning comes amid growing concern at the amount of food that ends up as landfill rather than on people's plates. Retailers generate 1.6 million tonnes of food waste each year.

An influential watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), will condemn targets set by the Government's waste-reduction programme as "unambitious and lacking urgency". It will also say multi-buy promotions are helping to fuel waste and obesity in Britain. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday ahead of the report's publication on Saturday, Tim Lang, SDC commissioner, said it was "ludicrous" that the Government had not pressured retailers into setting tougher targets to cut waste.

Three years ago, the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) left it up to supermarkets to find voluntary "solutions to food waste" in an agreement dubbed the Courtauld Commitment. "The Government is frankly not using its leverage adequately. It really should toughen up on Courtauld, which must be enforced because this is ludicrous," said Mr Lang, who is also professor of food policy at City University, London.

The 18-month study, which found that "too many supermarket practices are still unhealthy, unjust and unsustainable", said Wrap should adopt a "more aspirational approach to reducing waste in food retail by setting longer-term targets and [supporting] a culture of zero waste".

Richard Swannell, Wrap's director of retail and organic programmes, defended the Courtauld goals, set in 2005. "We couldn't set a target for reducing food waste because we didn't know what the scale of the problem was," he said. Instead, Wrap focused on reducing packaging waste - though even here the SDC report called its progress too slow. Mr Swannell said Wrap intended to unveil targets on cutting food waste by the summer.

The report comes at a critical time for Wrap, which is facing budget cuts of 25 per cent. Last week the body, which is campaigning to get consumers to throw less food away, issued 31 redundancy notices. Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, attacked the cuts. "It blows a hole in any credibility the Government has on the environment," he said.

A separate study by Imperial College for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, found that supermarkets preferred to throw away food that was approaching its sell-by date rather than mark it down in price. "The cost of staff time is greater than the money made on the reduced items," the research found, citing a supermarket executive who said it cost the chain £11m a year in labour and lost margins to slash prices.

more below...


What a waste: Britain throws away £10bn of food every year

Global food shortages, soaring prices and alarm over the environment. But every day, Britain throws away 220,000 loaves of bread, 1.6m bananas, 5,500 chickens, 5.1m potatoes, 660,000 eggs, 1.2m sausages and 1.3m yoghurts

A new study has exposed the staggering amount of food thrown away every day by the British public, calculating that the annual total of wasted products adds up to a record £10bn.

Each day, according to the government-backed report, Britons throw away 4.4 million apples, 1.6 million bananas, 1.3 million yoghurt pots, 660,000 eggs, 5,500 [CORRECTED] chickens, 300,000 packs of crisps and 440,000 ready meals. And for the first time government researchers have established that most of the food waste is made up of completely untouched food products - whole chickens and chocolate gateaux that lie uneaten in cupboards and fridges before being discarded.

The roll call of daily waste costs an average home more than £420 a year but for a family with children the annual cost rises to £610.

The Government's waste campaign Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme) revealed the extent of Britain's throwaway food culture after sifting through the dustbins of 2,138 people who signed up to an audit of food detritus. Other items on the daily list included 1.2 million sausages, 710,000 packs of chocolate or sweets, 260,000 packs of cheese, 50,000 milkshake bottles and 25,000 cooking sauces.

The study is published as millions of the world's poor face food shortages caused by rising populations, droughts and increased demand for land for biofuels, which have sparked riots and protests from Haiti to Mauritania, and from Yemen to the Philippines. Last month India halted the export of non-basmati rice to ensure its poor can eat, while Vietnam, the second-biggest rice exporter, is considering a similar measure after Cyclone Nargis ripped through Burma's rice-producing Irrawaddy delta.

In Britain yesterday, it emerged that food prices had risen by 4.7 per cent in the past month. The soaring cost of wheat has increased food prices in the UK by up to 11 per cent in the past year, putting more pressure on domestic budgets already struggling to cope with higher mortgage costs and council tax and energy bills.

More salient 'externalities':

The Environment minister, Joan Ruddock, said: "These findings are staggering in their own right, but at a time when global food shortages are in the headlines this kind of wastefulness becomes even more shocking. This is costing consumers three times over. Not only do they pay hard-earned money for food they don't eat, there is also the cost of dealing with the waste this creates. And there are climate- change costs to all of us of growing, processing, packaging, transporting and refrigerating food that only ends up in the bin. Preventing waste in the first place has to remain a top priority."

Eliminating the huge level of food waste would have significant environmental consequences. Local authorities spend £1bn a year disposing of food waste, which leads to the release of methane, a potent climate-change gas. Wrap calculated that stopping the waste of good food could reduce the annual emission of carbon dioxide by 18 million tonnes - the same effect as taking one in five cars off the roads.

Food experts said the study should serve as a wake-up call to British consumers. As well as an individual "Victorian moral" effort, Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, called for the Government to take action to improve the efficiency of the food system to face up to the challenges of climate change, rising oil costs and water shortages. Describing modern supermarkets as "cathedrals of waste", he said: "The British food economy is one of the most wasteful it would be conceivable to design. We have to create a new set of criteria on what we want the food economy to address; it's time for politicians to catch up."

Previously, Wrap's Love Food, Hate Waste campaign put the financial cost of the 6.7 million tonnes of food discarded annually in the UK at £8bn. After interviewing 2,715 households - and then analysing the contents of most of their bins - researchers found that people were throwing away a greater proportion of edible, unused products. Rather than half new food and half peelings and scrapings from plates, the proportion of entirely unused products was 60 per cent by weight and 70 per cent by value.

Overall, that meant the total level of waste was £2bn higher, at £10bn, with the untouched products discarded worth £6bn. Of those, products worth £1bn were still "in date", Wrap found.

Launching The Food We Waste report, Wrap's chief executive, Liz Goodwin, described its findings - which mean that one in three shopping bags is dumped straight in the bin - as "shocking".

When I was a young man, i entered into an anthropological experiment by joining a commune based in Seattle called the 'Love family'.

They practised the biblically sanctioned art of Gleaning, which consisted of going to local farmers and asking them if we could go and harvest what the paid harvesters had left behind, the produce too broken for supermarket display, or which dropped off the back of the tractor. It was astounding how much we returned with, and how many people we nourished with it.

The hygenic implications of the new fashion of 'freeganism, or 'dumpster-diving', as it used to be titled, are pretty dire, apparently the law is turning a blind eye to the practice out of compassion, but surely we can do better than this.

Why not pay people to sort through the waste produce before throwing it in the dumpster, and then distribute it to the poor?

Why not subsidise teenagers to gain 'in-the-field' experience planting trees, and gleaning? (Except when there are toxic chemical residues)

Are farmers in Europe still ploughing under crops tp preserve higher prices? (Free market forces alert)

I'm confident readers here will have good insights and suggestions about this subject, which really highlights the credibility gap concerning our efforts in the 'first world' to do something serious about world hunger.

Peace out-

Display:
Sorry it's such a depressing subject...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 04:43:03 PM EST
Barbara teaches yoga at a bank and gets lunch at the canteen. She observed large amounts of leftover food and enquired whether they would donate it to a homeless shelter or some other charity. The answer was that it wasn't possible out of concerns for possible legal liability for food poisoning.

Bakeries and other businesses that sell freshly cooked products are forced to destroy any leftover food at the end of the day.

And on, and on.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 05:03:54 PM EST
 I am an omnivore. I eat almost anything freshly cooked and I also eat everything (or almost) - ie very little waste. Since I and all my friends enjoy cooking, we eat at homes. Even if I'm alone, I cook for myself. (time to experiment!).

But even with careful separation of compostible from the rest , I still get max one small paper bag of compost a week, sometimes two if entertaining more. (It's a bag you can throw in the compost because it degrades). The only thing I have a problem with is fruit. One day it is good and I am about to eat it, and the next day it is a sorry mess. Or so it seems. I possibly buy too much fruit - on the advice of my mother who regarded a fruit bowl as the epitome of gracious hospitality. Something to do with WWII.

Bottles go the bottle bank at the end of the road or returned to the market. All paper to the same location at the end of the road. I even separate plastic from paper packaging. All cardboard goes to a place a bit further away. And all other rubbish is a max of 10 litres a week (ie a 70 litre bag compressed before disposal. And I have a vast collection of large yoghurt containers for DIY use. The very few batteries I use each year go to the market. In a nearby town there is a recycling center for such stuff as electrical equipment, metal scrap etc etc. You have to pay them a couple of euros to dispose of something like an old radio/CD combo. Some things they repair and recycle, but things like washing machines are stripped for useful parts (there is usually only one thing broken)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 06:02:05 PM EST
In the USA we have an organization called Second Harvest. I suspect they have had to deal with similar obstacles to those described in the diary.  In any case their very existence constitutes a "proof of principle."  Hope this is of some help.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 07:12:42 PM EST
1.8 million tonnes of food throw away in the UK?

Ok, UK ~ 60,000,000 inhabitants so that's 30 kg / year / person.

Assuming each person eats the equivalent 0.6 kg* of that stuff each day, that's 220 kg / year / person. So 30 kg on top of that, 30/(220+30) = 12%.

So the wastage is in the order of 10% of the total food supply or, to put it the other way around, the distribution system is 90% efficient. I don't see anything particularly shocking there.

It sounds to me like yet another way to instill guilt and fear in the populace by brandishing a shockingly high total number without putting it in relation with the relevant volumes at the scale of the country.

Fear, guilt, fear, guilt, drip, drip, drip. Decidedly, governments have nothing left but that to run on, the politics of fear, the power of nightmares.

(* 0.6 kg is not that much. For reference, bread is about 2,500 Cal/kg. So 0.6 kg would be 1,500 Cal. I hope the Brits can eat a bit more than that.)

by Francois in Paris on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 07:18:27 PM EST
Sorry, 1.6 million tonnes, not 1.8. So that's 26.7 kg/year/person.

So what to do with it? Well, it's full of water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. It looks to me like a perfect fodder for a biogas digester, either on its own or as a supplement to other feeds.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 07:46:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The gasification experimenter's kit on WorldChanging springs to mind...

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008070.html

by darrkespur on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 07:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, this is so cool!

It feels like leafing through the SERI gasifier handbook for the first time all over again!

by Francois in Paris on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 12:00:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fantastic link...

viva jaime...

WorldChanging: Gasification Experimenter's Kit


Power Hacker Culture

Mason's goal is not necessarily to start a power company to be the Next Big Thing in alternative fuels. His primary goal is both bigger and more subversive: he wants to build a power hacker culture. The personal computer revolution and the internet boom were not the result of any one individual company, they were the result of a computer hacker culture and community that incubated scores of companies and public projects, each building on each other. The aggregated sum of companies and projects created two revolutions which changed (and still are changing) the world. Could the same be done for green energy too?

His workshop, newly named All Power Labs, hosts not just gasification, but has people growing algae for biofuel, previously did solar power, and is open to any number of other methods of generating renewable energy. They also encourage others to do their own hacking and talk about the results.

The first event they are hosting to bring together alternative energy hackers is a road race: Escape from Berkeley (by any non-petroleum means necessary). It will be a road rally from Berkeley to Las Vegas, that any vehicle can enter as long as it scavenges all its fuel along the way. That could mean solar panels harvesting sunlight, bio-buses pulling used veggie oil from restaurants, gasifiers gathering sticks and grass off the side of the highway, anything that isn't petroleum. It will be a fun ride, bringing together junkyard motorheads and NASA eco-geeks, hippies and hot-rodders, one from as far from Berkeley as Alabama. Entries are still open; you're welcome to build a vehicle and race. Why not become a power hacker yourself?

wow, that's the spirit! It sounds like it can make charcoal to me, did i get that right?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 12:58:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It will be a road rally from Berkeley to Las Vegas, that any vehicle can enter as long as it scavenges all its fuel along the way.

my bets are on donkey carts.

seeing how much they can carry in footage from the third world, it's staggering.

especially with rubber tires, greased axles, good bearings and flat country...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 01:25:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It makes 'Terra Preta' which, like the Mayans did, can be scattered on soil to increase fertility and lock carbon into the earth. It's a rich charcoal that some historians believe may have been what made the Mayans so successful, not their gold.
by darrkespur on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 07:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks darrkespur, is it still burnable in a stove to cook food as well, maybe if you take it out earlier?

what can one compress and store the gas in?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 09:51:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure of the usage RE: cooking charcoal, I suspect it may be too efficient a process to leave anything left for future burning - ash would be a more realistic description, just high carbon, excellent fertiliser ash.

As far as I'm aware, the gas is burnt by the gasifier directly after burning the original material, making it twice as efficient. A lot of current high-end wood-burners use a similar technique, my parents have a good one that's ridiculously efficient off a few logs. This can then be used to generate electricity, heat water, etc.

by darrkespur on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 04:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's from retailers alone.
There are many other sources of waste.

Supermarkets in the UK have decided that they will only buy fruits and vegetables that looked like they have decided they should look like, hence a colossal waste that stays with the producers.

Then not everything the purchasing centre buys will end up on a shelf.

Then they generate waste by not selling until it's too late.

Then food portions are too big and are not finished (at restaurants, or if you buy ready meals).

Then the more people cook for themselves, the better they may match what they buy with what they eat, but that's not a UK specialty either.
Then lots of things are bought and eventually not consumed.

All in all, I heard the estimate that in the UK, slightly over 50% of the food is thrown away. Now that's massive. That may include bones, or vegetables and fruits skins, so that would not be quite as bad, but still huge.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 05:57:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
all good and true points, cyrille.

i just learned that old hospital machinery is being given away in the third world, and that warmed my heart. i just think this food waste is completely unsustainable, as well as immoral.

frank's comment was great in its offering of crystal clear, immediately implementable solutions.

ET rules!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 09:56:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Compare with the entire UN food aid program which, at it's highest, is 15 million tons a year.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 01:21:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
while i subscribe to similar opinions regarding governments resorting to scary propaganda to keep people from thinking straight, i don't really see the payoff for them here in this matter.

thanks for your number crunching, it adds some good context.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 12:46:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a straightforward result of factory economics applied to grocery stores. When you make parts there is wastage: Wastage of raw materials that could by some sort of optimization perhaps be saved, wastage of end products that fail inspection and could in theory be repaired, and wastage due to accidents in packaging or handling before shipment.

For example, in a production line where electronic components are assembled, parts that fail the test process are screened by a technician for possible repair. The technicians operate under guidelines like "If it will take more than 10 minutes to fix it, toss it in the trash." It all has to do with the economics of the overall system, and is (in well-run shops) carefully calculated.

I don't see why one would expect modern grocery stores to be any different.

by asdf on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 07:22:00 PM EST
It all has to do with the economics of the overall system,

yes, quite.

I don't see why one would expect modern grocery stores to be any different.

i do...

food shouldn't be treated as just another product to be wasted, imo, but obviously not all agree!

thanks anyway.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 07:42:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it seems a distribution problem, principally, just like so many other crises ensuing from the economics of scarcity model.

interesting comments all, thanks.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 8th, 2008 at 08:00:15 PM EST
but not irrelevant. At least it touches on the distribution problem. (Can't make the link work, but Google the title, and you will find it immediately.)

"For about $500 a season, you can have own farmer"

By M.L. JOHNSON
From Associated Press
June 10, 2008 3:59 AM EDT

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 10:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This one?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 06:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't have to be a distribution problem, because even poor people get to supermarkets under their own steam.

Allowing people who had registered...say...a prescription charge exemption card to their supermarket loyalty card to have marked down produce for nothing would take care of the distribution.  And it would be pretty discreet, as it would go through the till with the rest of their groceries.

But one of the things I've noticed over the last few years is that supermarkets don't want you to buy marked down produce.

I'm extrapolating this from my observation that, when I was a student, I could count on a discount of 50-75%.

Now it can be as little as 20p on a £2.50 item.

I've been wondering if this is a version of the McLarge phenomenon, where the margins on drinks and fries are so high that the few extra pence to make a fast food meal large still turns a profit.

It's quite possibly more profitable to throw produce away than lose a full-price sale.

And if that's so, the only way to tackle it is to make it very, very expensive to throw food away.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 03:22:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the most descriptive title to show up on the recent diaries list, is it?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 05:39:46 AM EST
er, yes, good point!

thanks for pointing it out, will be more conscious about titling in the future.

duh-

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 05:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can still replace "this" with whatever "this" refers to in the title. Edit the diary, replace the title and save.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 06:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i've had a terrible time with internet connection, ten minutes+ to draw down a page, if it draws at all, and on top of that i couldn't find the access to editing the diary title.

if some gnome wants to retitle it, that's good with me, or maybe remind me how to access the edit diary function...

how's about: Throwaway Food, what can we do about it?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 12:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 02:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vielen dank!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 08:36:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that saved all of the residual (unwanted/unuseable) produce for a couple of backyard gardeners to compost. Of course, sometimes the trash barrel smelled like an unsuccessful compost process, but the gardeners were also responsible for washing it out in that case.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I lived on a farm, where we raised one or two pigs at a time, plus some chickens. I bought the day-after-the-'day-old' bread from a bakery for $1 per feed-bag full and occasionally stopped down at the produce market for bags full of unsold lettuce and such for free.

Point being that there are uses for this material. Thanks, melo, you reminded me to talk to our local 'supermarket' (friendly, local folks by the way) about getting some of that material for my compost bin. (I know about the pesticides, but I don't think that they have all that much effect on the produce from my garden, considering the dilution factor.)

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 11:02:12 AM EST
Sorry Melo for coming so late to the party, but like Migeru, I found the title too uninviting.  It reminds me of meetings:  When somebody says "what can we do about this" it usually means they are too lazy to get off their backsides to sort the problem themselves!

I must say I get increasingly annoyed at how our throwaway culture is developing.  The washing machine that has to be dumped because no one can/will fix the one broken part.  The car which is designed to last only 7/8 years when cars used to last twice as long. The huge amounts of packaging used with food.  Fast food joints throw cooked food away every couple of hours because of strict hygiene/safety rules

However we are also partly to blame.  Most people seem to throw away food past it's sell by date on principle.  They have been brainwashed into assuming it is unsafe.  We no longer trust our own senses of smell, taste and looks to determine whether something is still edible.   Producers put very early sell by dates on their produce because:

  1. It protects them from legal liability
  2. No one will NOT by food because of a relatively short shelf life
  3. The more food is thrown away, the more they can sell!

Many people won't buy food that has been marked down because it is close to it's sell by date - because they don't want to be seen to be having to economise on their groceries.  There is a huge snob value associated with buying the most exclusive or most expensively wrapped and presented brand.

So I suggest a few simple rules to change the culture of both industry and consumers.

  1. All shops selling any goods must also handle the waste returns - the packaging, the broken, or used up produce.  This will create a financial incentive to minimise such waste by design.  (Happening with electronic goods and some food packaging in Ireland, but it needs to be extended)

  2.  Ireland's tax on (free) plastic shopping bags has resulted in a huge reduction in their use.  People have learned to remember to bring re-usable bags.

  3.  It must become illegal to dump waste food - without offering it first for free to consumers - if necessary by waiving legal liability on donated food - retailers are currently liable to be sued for defective food - and have to pay huge insurance premiums to cover themselves from this.  Removing such legal liability from donated food will free up this waste channel for productive use.  It will also encourage more realistic pricing strategies, as unsold goods will have to be given away free rather than removed from the market by dumping.

  4.  Most dumping is also a mechanism for maintaining artificially high prices by maintaining "scarcity" in the market - and preventing unsold goods from undermining high prices and "brand equities or values" by dumping them out of the supply chain.  This should be made illegal - if only to encourage more discount stores selling goods not sold at the premium end of the market.

But perhaps the biggest change which needs to be made is cultural.  Marketing is all about making people feel inadequate unless they have the latest must have gizmo or high end branded food product.  People no longer trust the quality of a product unless it is expensively packaged, branded, marketed etc.  Giving people the self confidence to wear/use "cheaper" brands which are not necessarily inferior is also about building up inclusive civic values rather than exclusive commercial ones.

People brand themselves by the food/close/cars etc. they consume.  Teaching values which no not equate personal worth with material goods is the most important challenge of all because by definition waste is anything which does not add real value, and the real value is in us, not in the produce we consume.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 05:39:38 AM EST
masterfully cogent and comprehensive comment, frank!

can we assume that individuality, self-expression may rotate around more true originality in the future, and less around a common shared hallucination that a bag can carry more than what's in it, if it's a Pwada, or that buying preripped jeans makes you somehow more authentic?

as you say, the problem is cultural, and goes very deep.

after you have grown your own food, you know externalities are not factored in right, when you see how cheap some food is at the supermarket.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 12:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I had a local high street within reasonable walking distance then I would rely far less on stocking up at the supermarket and would waste less food as a result.  

I will admit that I am terrible at anticipating how much I need to buy and either eat it all within 3 days or still have loads left after a week.  If I could pop out once every couple of days to get what I needed then it would make a massive difference but the only local shops don't sell good fresh food (think wrinkled apples and brown bananas) and they don't sell a range of food that I am able to eat - it is all processed, and ready meals that I won't/can't touch.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 11th, 2008 at 05:29:49 AM EST


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