Published: Verve Magazine, Nerve, September 2009
The writer of The Bloodless Revolution, Tristram Stuart, is back with another sit-up-and-take-notice book, Waste, about how tackling the problem of waste is one of the simplest ways of reducing pressure on the environment and on global food supplies. The UK (Sussex)-based author tells Sitanshi Talati-Parikh what’s working and what’s not in India
What are we doing right?
In India the recycling tradition has always thrived – kabari-wallahs collect unwanted trash for recycling and food waste is left for animals to graze on, turning it back into meat, milk and manure. As a result, India produces meat and dairy products much more efficiently than Europe and the United States. Also Indians eat more vegetarian food and less meat than other nations, and this is a much more efficient way of feeding people than the meaty diets of the West and of China.
What should we keep in mind as we embrace a more consumerist culture?
Growing food uses land and water, so reducing food waste can help to reduce water depletion, deforestation and global warming.
Nearly one billion people are malnourished in today’s world: we can help alleviate their hunger simply by wasting less food. It means the food will stay on the market where people can buy it to feed their families, instead of the food ending up in our rubbish bins.
We have to keep an eye on food companies, who often waste thousands of tonnes of food for no good reason. When supermarkets get too powerful, they make farmers grow food that they then decide not to stock, causing harm to the land and to the farmers.
The government should help farmers keep their food fresh so it doesn’t rot before it reaches the market. Simple things like fruit crates, cool storage in markets and on farms can help a lot.
Food storage in the home is really important: keep it cool, and use up leftovers – don’t let them go to waste.
Just remember: Buy what you need and eat what you buy!