So the pope has spoken. In his weekly speech (known as an audience) in St. Peter’s Square, he said, “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” This coincided with the United Nations launch of an anti-food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food — that’s one third of the world’s food production — are lost or wasted every year. I regularly read that in the United States, 30 percent of all food is thrown away, which I suppose means that the US is doing 3% better than the rest of the world, and that is frankly surprising.
But then again, I’m never sure what these figures mean. Does that 30 percent include potato peelings, burned toast, overcooked food sent back in restaurants, the inedible bits of an artichoke? I suspect nobody else knows either.
The Pope continued, “Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value,” and then he compared this to “our grandparents” who “used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food.”
It’s not often that I agree with the pope but I’m more or less with him here. I certainly make a point of not throwing away leftover food - I suppose it was the way I was brought up. If food looks slightly past its best I eat it, if it’s actually rotting it becomes compost; though I’m not absolutely certain how these things actually benefit the poor and hungry.
Of course there is a good deal of bile and vinegar in the blogosphere about this man who lives in marble halls telling the world to save its leftovers. Which leads us pretty much inevitably to the thoughts of Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation fame.
Ron says, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish…and feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard.” So I agree with both the pope and Ron Swanson – how about that?