Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waste Lines and Waist Lines

I am in Brussels, Belgium, at a conference titled "Organic Waste in Urban Environments -- New European Challenges". It is pretty sweet, and I'm not talking about the chocolate.

Day Number One included a blend of speakers from Germany, France, Belgium, and England. I cannot do justice to their presentations, but the general messages seem to be A) food waste is a very important issue, and B) it is WAY more beneficial to prevent food wastage on the front end (by not buying or preparing too much food) than to deal with it on the back end (through disposal or composting). No big surprises.

One presentation by Tom Quested of WRAP (U.K.) talked about their in-depth study that measured how the average person throws away 28% of their consumable food. Now I have put on tyvek suits and sorted my share of garbage, but these sorts went above and beyond the call of duty: they precisely documented every donut, dairy carton, sell-by date, and grain of rice that got thrown in the rubbish bin. This information translated into front-page headlines a neat campaign called "Love Food, Hate Waste". One of the tips that they promote (and that cropped up in at least three other presentations) was the simple act of making a shopping list before heading to the grocery store.

Make those lists, and check the fridge twice.

One presentation by Nathalie Cliquot of the European Environmental Bureau talked about ways to reduce waste. Again, no big surprises that it's a good idea to A) eat less dairy & meat; B) eat less (eat as many calories as you need); C) eat seasonal, robust, local, field-grown vegetables that don't need heating or lighting; and D) don't waste food. She also pointed out how those things, while good for the environment, are also good for our health.

Duly noted.

1 comment:

Ms. Ali Jessie said...

That picture of you and the pretzel made me laugh so hard! Nice!