Weekend food waste roundup – 6 January 2012

Dumpster Diver TV: Austrians Cook Up Food Waste Reality Show | The Salt : NPR Dumpster diving goes prime time in Austria. “Although I was prepared for large amounts,” the director for the project, David Gross, says, “the amount of waste left me speechless.”

Tiffins for all: Food cart owner wants to wean Vancouverites off disposable takeout containers | The Vancouver Sun – One Naan Kebab food cart owner wants to wean everyone off of disposable containers, Gandhidham style. The motivations and logistics aren’t the same in Vancouver as in India, but he thinks there is something to be learned from tiffins and dabbawalas.

Mark Lynas, environmentalist who opposed GMOs, admits he was wrong. | Slate – A big turnaround by Mark Lynas. The full text of his speech is here, or, if you prefer to watch it, I’ve embedded it below.

07 Mark Lynas from Oxford Farming Conference on Vimeo.


6 thoughts on “Weekend food waste roundup – 6 January 2012

    • It really makes no sense from a humanitarian or business perspective. Food donations come with tax breaks, and there is only liability in the case of gross negligence (thanks to the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act).

  1. Wowza, that Mark Lynas speech. It has certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons if you look at the comments section of that link you have. Talk about a Damascene conversion. As the daughter of a research scientist – and as part of my job now – I have been taught to evaluate evidence. And what I have concluded from many years of reading journals and studies is that the scientific community is generally very rigorous, although not infallible. I think that Mark raises some valid points – many in fact – but there are also some rather dogmatic statements that rather detract. I think like this commenter: ‘GM can be used for good or evil but it is the applications that should be rationally criticised, not the technology, for the potential for good is great.’ Basically I don’t feel black and white about this issue. If organic gave better yields, of course it would be a better choice. Mark’s quip about studies saying organic not any better depends on what you are looking at in the studies. Some of these studies have been highly criticised by scientists themselves for not looking beyond pure nutrition. And, in fact there is evidence for better nutrition in some ‘staple’ foods like milk. But I am convinced that it is not a sustainable way to feed our planet in the long-term. I am, however, firmly on the side of choice. That said, it is only a real choice here in the rich West. This is getting long-winded now. And my breakfast calls (organic carrot and almond porridge). I hope his speech and the text goes viral and provokes a world-wide debate. But who will moderate that I wonder??

    • I certainly hope that the speech will prompt a few more people to revisit the topic, and challenge their assumptions. It’s always disheartening to read comments on this kind of news though. So many of the louder voices are firmly entrenched and emotional, and not guided by actual evidence. As you say, it’s not black and white, but people do tend to polarize and think in terms of false dichotomies (like the notion of natural vs unnatural). On some level, that’s what I don’t like about the focus of the labeling debate. I don’t think GMO vs non-GMO tells us very much (and it fuels the wrong kind of thinking) – though I do like the idea of having more information about each piece of food we purchase. What genes were modified and why? That, I’d like to know. What pesticides were used? That would allow me to make informed choices. One unfortunate thing about the speech itself is that, despite making some very good points, he makes statements that can easily be attacked, and that distracts from what I think is one of the key insights he’s had: you can’t cherry pick the science that supports your point of view. If you believe in that process as a way to know the world, then you need to look at the science as you form opinions – and if you have an alternate hypothesis, you need to drive the science that will support or falsify your claims.

  2. I finally watched “Dive” streaming on Netflix this past week. I already knew the numbers, but what astounded me was the corporate response to the problem. I also do not understand why dumpsters are being locked as a response to the diver explosion. Diving is something I’ve considered doing since my friend brought me a box ($80 or more) of beautiful produce she dive’d (duringnthe day, with kids waiting in the mini-van) from the Walmart organic bin. Shameful.

    Bringing my own containers? A habit now! I carry in my car two reusable grocery bags with some clean “dishes” in them for dining out or getting sushi from the grocery. The vendors all know me, my ways, and I think appreciate what I do. So easy to do — habits are meant to be changed when they can.

    Going to listen to GMO piece now. As a general rule, I buy organic (for other reasons) and the fact that non-GMO’s are just a bonus. I’ve not seen the firm science to convince me that these creations of man are as dangerous as the alarmists claim. I’m with Kellie. Show me the science.

    • The whole diving world is interesting to me (will add Dive to the long list of things I need to read & watch when I find a minute) – and I think the Austrian show is a brilliant way to make people aware of the waste. It would be great to have something similar in the US, that not only helps people revisit their notion of garbage, but also points the finger at the owners of those dumpsters and shames them into finding better solutions, and reducing (rather than locking up) their waste streams.

      Hopefully bringing one’s own containers will become mainstream, like bringing one’s own bags have. In a land where everyone has cars (like LA), it seems there are fewer barriers to that. It’s interesting to see what has evolved in India as a solution (and sad to see that, despite what everyone claims when asked, notions of caste are alive and well in some quarters).

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