At the risk of being called a Scrooge (the Dicken’s character, rather than the Disney character who wears no pants), I’m suggesting we buy less food during the Christmas season.
In the lead up to Christmas, I find it so interesting, yet understandable, that we engorge ourselves, and purchase so much food, only to throw away a significant amount of food after the Christmas celebrations. According to Foodwise, Australians waste over $5 billion worth of food per year, which is over 3 million tonnes. But food waste peaks in the festive season when, according to 2008 figures, Australians spend $7.6 billion on food in December alone.
As with all things in life, it is both complex, and simple. At a simplistic level, the reason we throw away so much food is because we buy so much. I know this sounds blatantly obvious, but we need to fully get this aspect of it before we start looking at other, more complex, causes. To some degree, we need to come to terms with the reality that we simply buy too much stuff, including food, and we need to recognise that it is virtually impossible for us to consume all the food that we buy.
So, the first, and simple, solution is for everyone to buy less. Which is actually harder than it sounds.
You will notice that I haven’t said we need to eat less, which is what politicians will most often tell us to do. The reason is that the first step for us to overcome both wastage and obesity, in the developed world, is for us to buy less.
The eating less, comes after the buying less.
However, for a mainstream politician to tell his or her constituents to buy less, would be political suicide, particularly because we have been trained to dance to the “growth at all costs” song over the past twenty years. To encourage people to buy less, would seriously challenge the growth ideology (which it is), and make any politician who told us this, an outcast from the political orthodoxy (see Greens).
The more complicated answer encompasses a combination of psychology, sociology, ecology, evolution, economics, and marketing. I’ll explain how this all works in my next post.