I recently saw a most interesting and unsettling investigative documentary about food passing through the value chain. The millions of tonnes of food waste discarded along the way pointed towards the power of the supermarket. The top 7 supermarkets in the UK provide most of the food required by the 70 million people in the country and this results in a gateway manned by the retailers. They seem to think that only prime quality produce would be purchased by us, the consumer – and often this meant food which looked good, having very little to do with nutritional value. They also treated farmers in a way that could only be described as medieval. This combination resulted in many thousands of tonnes of food waste even at the farm gate. Hence the war on waste has only just begun.
Most of these supermarkets were represented by articulate and well-meaning sustainability directors and communications specialists. Their jobs seemed to be to present themselves in the best light possible so the consumer could be assured of their commitment to reducing waste and improving our society. So it came as a shock to find that the presenter of the programme unearthed a catalogue of issues relating to consumer ignorance, value chain manipulation and corporate misrepresentation.
As far as I am concerned, we are only just off the starting blocks when it comes to the journey towards a truly sustainable society. The concern is often about looking to be sustainable rather than taking the decisions which will actually make the difference. See more information on the Wastenot activities at https://wastenotuk.com
Hugh’s War on Waste Documentaries, BBC1 2nd and 9th November 2015
Presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall