Monday, 16 June 2014

Waste Lines

TONNES of Jersey Royals are being dumped in fields and left to rot because exporters are unable to sell them to UK supermarkets following unprecedented competition across Europe. (Jersey Evening Post)
The Jersey Royal Company said plants had been producing double the number of potatoes. However, the weather has also led to oversized potatoes which the firm might not be able to use.  William Church, of the firm, said the potatoes had grown so well that some were oversized, and "there will be a proportion which will be no use to us". He said that some fields had grown so well and potatoes had grown so big, up to 50% could be wasted, but other fields will be "spot on". (BBC Radio Jersey)
I was listening to Sam Mezec talking about his experience of Christianity (at Church House on Wednesday) when he was growing up. One of his pet gripes with his primary school was the way in which the prayers before school meals always hammered home how they should be grateful for the food, while millions were starving in Africa.
I remember something very similar myself, and I recall that the liver, which had the consistency of shoe leather, left one thinking that perhaps we could send this to the starving millions in Africa.
But to some extent, these prayers were rather like the terrible adverts that stick in the memory. Sam thought that it would be better if they had discussed this kind of imbalance between plenty and famine in a class, instead of preaching it by means of grace before meals. Perhaps it would, but I suspect he may well have forgotten what was said, or even that it had been said. Instead, like the "Go Compare" advert, it remains excruciatingly and indelibly fixed in the mind.
But can we take the lesson of the school prayers before food out of the classroom? I think there is a danger that we do not. I was reading the two news stories about the potatoes being thrown away because they could not be sold, because of size or competition.
In the first instance, couldn't some kind of food aid be organised locally to those who depend upon food banks, so that at least some of the potatoes could be used locally. After all, the potato companies receive a subsidy from the States, as was pointed out in questions by Constable Phil Rondel recently. So shouldn't the States have some say over what happens to the crop, if it would otherwise be wasted.
A correspondent of mine, Adam Gardiner, also came up with the excellent suggestion that the States charter (or liaise with the United Nations) three Hercules transport planes. They could certainly reach famine stricken parts of Syria, even Africa was out of reach.
The United Nations World Food Programme uses C-130 Hercules transports to deliver food where there are peoples facing famine conditions, and there are humanitarian crises over food supplies, such as supplying food to the Rumbak region of Sudan
The C-130 Hercules, has a long reputation as the "workhorse" of the Air Force, delivering troops, equipment and supplies all over the world and participating in humanitarian missions. The planes are the "workhorse" used to delivery humanitarian relief and support with the delivery of food and medical supplies to many countries.
When Pope Francis spoke at World Environment Day, 2013, he said:
"Throwing away food is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry"
The pope reported from a UN paper entitled "Reducing Food Loss and Waste", that one quarter to one third of the world food supply is lost or wasted annually, and that it amounts to 1.3 billion tons.  A catastrophic loss.
As Linda Eckhardt comments:
"The fact is most food loss is not from the refrigerators and plates of home cooks and restaurant goers.  Most waste occurs in the supply chain. And the blame should be squarely laid at the feet of producers not retailers or consumers."
"Picture if you will those photos we've all seen of mountains of grains going to mold and rot in far off places because the last link in the chain - that of getting the food to the end user - hadn't been thought through."
Is it just that we should discard so much food? Perhaps some of our Overseas Aid budget could go towards redistributing these potatoes which the Supermarkets do not want, but would certainly aid the starving of the world, or at any rate, countries within relatively easy range of aircraft like the Hercules.
Or are the potatoes just going to be left to rot, like those dumped at Beauport, where there is still a facility to take waste pollution from the ground?
People associate Sodom and Gomorrah with sexual sin, but in fact a reading of the text shows that their principle sin was to break the code of hospitality, and not look after strangers. Ezekiel 16:49 spells this out very plainly:
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."
Those very words could be a judgement upon our Island if tonnes of potatoes are just dumped and go to waste. Forget the excuses, and I am sure that politicians can find plenty. Surely we should look closely at the kind of society in which we have excess of food, while the poor and needy starve?

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