Monday, 4 December 2017

Junk Food, Junk Theory

Statistics often provoke incredulity. For example, The London School of Tropical Medicine sent out a report that says the surplus (stress, that's surplus) food consumed by all the obese people in the world is enough to feed 1 billion of the world's poorest people. You don't need to be a genius to predict what many will say when they tap away on their keyboards by way of a response:

"Ah, so if the over-eaters consumed normal amounts, we could give all that food to those billion people".

Not quite. That's a bit like saying that if we gave some of Europe's rainfall to Africa, there would be less barren land in Africa. True, but not possible. The same goes with food - obese people consuming less does not mean that we could feed the billon poorest people, because what makes them hungry isn’t just lack of food, it is lack of many of the other things that may otherwise result in enough food.
All that said, it would certainly be useful if we were all more careful with our food consumption. Perhaps the most useful and practical measures we can take would be to take the lead of the supermarkets that voluntarily donate their surplus food and drink to good domestic causes - either by spending money on the food donation schemes they run, or by adding some extra items to your shopping basket that you can donate to food banks.

On a happy note to end, well done to the Co-op for being the first major retailer to voluntarily sell food on a large scale at a reduced price after its 'best before' date, in an effort to simultaneously cut its losses and reduce its food waste too. What I like most about it is that it's an entirely voluntary decision - no enforcement, no pressure from regulatory bodies - just a straightforward sensible decision that mutually benefits sellers and buyers.