Published 28th September 2009 - 4 comments - 1317 views -
This is the second post in a series of posts about mass consumption and wast. Did you see Jodi Bush's excellent video on the topic here on Th!nk about it ?
Yesterday we all agreed that those dark red apples with minor black spots and brown parts are not only edible, but also beautiful. Marit Paulsson, member of the European parliament and a Swedish authority on food issues, told us to ask for them in the super market, preferrably at a reduced price. So I put on a serios face and asked Michael Wieloch, the shop owner of my local supermarket ICA Fäladen straight out: How much vegetables do you throw away?
- Michael Wieloch
"Wow, that is a lot. You would never imagine how much we threw away!"
Michael is anything but shy, and he has lots to say. Unlike the discussion in the radio programme he doesn't speak so much about fruits and vegetables, but about meat. They throw lots and lots of meat. As a blogger playing journalist I try to confront him with the tough questions...
So how much meat can you afford to throw away?
Well, from an economical perspective we can throw all of it away. We don't make any money on the meat".
So the money must come from the shiny apples...
Michael tells me how he is forced to throw away good meat, not because it is bad, but because the date on the package says so. Not long ago it was the butchers working in the supermarket that decided how long a piece of meat would be edible. But a number of new laws for food safety have in Michael's words "declared an entire profession as idiots". The development began in 2002 when researchers linked the mad cow disease in cows with Creuzfeldts Jacobs disease in humans. Since then anyone who sells meat must be able to tel form which animal the meat comes from. Something that is very difficult to do for the staff in the supermarket. "We trust doctors and car mechanicans, why shouldn't we trust the butchers? Food safety was their job, and they knew it well". Michael tells me.
That the latest news about wasted food have been discussed in the staff is obvious - from time to time a woman (I later understand it is Michael's wife) comes in, repeating what Michael had said, about declaring an entire profession idiots. "If it continues like this, in the end we will import all meat from Brazil And that is really not climate-friendly", she says. Obviously it is not. But why?, I ask. Don't the same rules apply for Brazlian meat?
Michael explains me that the rules are the same, but that they are made for the big producers, those who have money to invest in computerized control of their products, and with a turnover so big that these investments pay off. Swedish farmers are very small in international comparison. That might change with a warmer climate, as Sweden is said to become more fertile when it gets warmer, but until now the big players are found abroad. A more fertile climate would maybe encourage Swedish players to grow to major industrial players, but it is difficult to see what good that would do...
After all, isn't it the size of everthing that is the problem? The bigger the turnover - the cheaper individual animals - the more you can afford to waste. Not long ago, it was very easy. The farmer had a cow, took the milk, sold the milk to the guys in the city and got paid. Not well paied, of course, but producing your own food was a kind of safety if things went very wrong. Look at it now - what kind of safety do you think the african immigrants picking the spanish vegetables sold in Sweden had when the crisis struck Spain? None. Somewhere along the line the farmer was repaced with a food industry. Profits grew and critics were disregarded as "traditionalist".
Food production increased, feeding generations that bought cars and ipods and wasted the resources that future generations need so badly. And agriculture, in stead of feeding us, became one of the worst polluters, wrecklessly wasting water and feeding an ever expanding network of oil-powered trucks carrying the food over continents. Agriculture has become its own worst enemy.
Not only is it bad - it is a vicious circle. Large scale agriculture generates diseases. To fight these we create rules for food safety that small farmers just can't meet. The industry gets more centralized, and we wait for the next epidemy. Not to mention the use of antibiotics, that creat resistant bacterias...
When my grandmother was young she lived form what was produced in her village. When Mikael was young there animals were slaughtered more or less where they lived, not transported around Europe. When I was young the meat was still cut and packed in the supermarket. Nowadays the meat is being cut and packed centrally, since no supermarket could manage to follow all the rules locally. And no-one dares to break them.
If you make one mistake, no matter how little, you have Janne Josefsson here, followed by the entire media!, Michael exclaims. For those of you who don't know - Janne Josefsson is a controversial, but also popular journalist, something of a Swedish Guenter Wallraff. One of the good guys, who unveils the ugly truths. Or at least I thought so. Could over-zealous media be part of the problem, rather than the solution? Or is my local super market owner trying to scare away his critics? Tomorrow I will try to look into the role of media in this story. Thanks for reading and... a revoir!
About the author
- Waste not, want not…
- Black Point of the Danube Basin
- Burning our future part 2 - interview with doctor Stefano Montanari
- Should environmentalists eat old fruit?
- Burning our future - part 1
- An ethical fashion outfit
- I’ve done my part - now it’s up to you
- TCKTCK: Got only 10 years to save ourselves!
- Denmark cries in Sea of Blood, 950 Whales and Dolphins KILLED…
- Micro pigs - the ultimate sweetheart energy saver
- If you want to see nude people click here
- Do we really care about our planet? Think twice before answering.
- Evolutions in the history of Environment Part 2
- Bunnies for fuels: not a good story to share in a grade school classroom