Campaign against food waste

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         A “Bread Happy Hour” against food waste? While this may sound rather funny at first is being offered by a Berlin commercial bakery during the “Wertwochen Lebensmittel” (food value weeks) in the German capital.

An hour before close of business bread will be sold at reduced prices before it has to be thrown out. From September 25 to October 6 will the department for consumer protection of the Berlin Senate mobilize against food waste. The twelve-day long campaign is headed under the banner of “Into the saucepan rather than into the trashcan”.

“We want to create consciousness and education,” said Senator Thomas Heilmann (CDU) at the launch of the initiative in which more than 40 institutions, associations and companies will participate with over 60 events. Some restaurants are, for instance, offering “rest menus” at reduced prices. Lectures shall also raise further awareness as regards to the issue.

Based is this initiative on the countrywide campaign “Zu gut für die Tonne” (“too good for the trashcan). However, it is not the aim to raise a finger but to show how many good things one can make from food, said Sabine Toepfer-Kataw, Secretary of State of the Protection of the Consumer.

Background to this initiative are figures according to statistically ever consumer in Germany per years throws away 82 kilograms of food in the value of 235 Euros. Senator Heilmann estimates that the entire project will cost around 50,000 to 100,000 Euro. “Rather an economical action: a small budget and hopefully a big result”, he said.

“We are very happy with the response”, said Heilmann, and he does not exclude a repetition of this event next year.

The problem with food waste that is so often not addressed and also not in this case is the food waste that does not even reach the shops. That is to say food that is discarded because it is misshapen and thus does not fit into the buying criteria of the stores, especially the big supermarkets who do not seem to be prepared to educate consumers to the fact that misshapen vegetables are natural and are as good for us as are the perfectly shaped ones.

On the other hand the waste from the stores at the end of the day is a tragedy that could be addressed as it used to be in the old days in that stores would either sell stuff off cheap or give it away to people who wanted it.

Today in most cases the food is chuckled into dumpsters and anyone taking from there, theoretically, is committing an act of theft. In addition to that in most cases, and it is thus in Britain in most places, the food thrown into the trash has bleach or other nasty chemicals thrown over it so as to render it definitely inedible to anyone even considering taking it out of the bins.

If we really want to reduce food waste we must allow people to take what is being thrown away or for shops to be allowed to either sell it off at a very low price or simple stick it outside on a “Help Yourself” display. It is not rocket science.

© 2013