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Updated On: Friday, November 24 2017

Kenyan Banquet Shows Futility Of Food Waste

Photo: UN Photo

Content by: South-South News

There are few resources that demonstrate the inefficiency in the world's delivery systems as vividly as food.

Despite massive and widespread problems like hunger and malnutrition, huge amounts of food are wasted every year, left rotting on vines or in fields or tossed into the trash.

This was demonstrated starkly in Kenya this week, when hundreds of high level government officials, including several minsters, held a banquet using only food rejected from UK supermarkets for superficial reasons. Crops turned away for not being the desired shade, shape, or size, but otherwise had no defect, found their way onto the plates of some of Nairobi's most powerful men and women.

"You would expect a country where there are millions of hungry people to be using everything that it grows," said Tristram Stuart, an anti-waste activist who founded "Feeding the 5,000," one of the organizations that hosted this event. "Unfortunately 'waste not, want not' is not a motto that is implemented here in Kenya. The scale of waste is colossal. And it has shocked me; indeed it has distressed me to see, particularly, what we found in the export market."

The organizers of this event hope that as people see their leaders having an upscale meal out of what would have been discarded food, they recognize that this level of waste is unwarranted, and recognize the opportunity to salvage food whenever possible.

The FAO estimates that some 95 percent of the food wasted in developing countries occurs due to poor storage or shipping methods that spoils the product. In the rich world, waste is far more common and severe. In Europe, North America, and the developed countries of Oceania, the average citizen wastes between 95 and 115 kilograms of food each year. In sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-east Asia, that number shrinks to six to 11 kilos.

"I met a grower who was wasting 40 percent of the vegetables that he was growing for a UK supermarket," Mr. Stuart explained. "Why was he wasting them? Primarily the issue is the cosmetic standards that are laid down by the UK supermarket. So that beans have to be not too long and not too short. If they are too long he has to cut off a third of the bean and waste it.

"That's a waste of a third of all resources that went into growing that bean."

This dinner was prepared by Ray Cournede, one of Kenya's most famous chefs. It showed that healthy food, even if it didn't meet the precise specifications of western markets, had no business being wasted, and was worthy of five star dinner.


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