When I talk to our customers about our work with food waste it always gets people really excited. It's a great thing that more people are getting engaged about the amount of food we waste and ways to mitigate it.
From the 'outside' looking in it can seem pretty simple, reduce your own waste and find a use for what has to be waste. It's not rocket science.
The problem is that our food system is so deeply ingrained around consumption and overproduction with complex systems of subsidies and tariffs that shifting the balance of the system takes a fair bit of pain. This was painfully clear on one recent food waste pickup.
This is what 3 tons of unwanted plums looks like:
Now the reason why these plums were going to waste was a specific misunderstanding with a packhouse. A preventable waste but one that happens all the time.
But what you can't see in this photo is the 30 tons of fruit still on the trees out of shot which are going unpicked.
Well, the supermarket which takes most of this farmers production is trying to do a lot to mitigate their own waste. So the individual store managers are ordering less soft fruit as a result.
For this farmer, this is a really bad outcome of the growing awareness of food waste; and our farmers are really not in a position to suffer these kinds of losses.
So it's complicated.
I'm a food waste fanatic but don't claim to have the answers. One thing we can do is to get into the habit of checking the labels on our food, buying local, buying in season, and still reaching for that punnet of plums when it's the last box on the shelf.