Food wastage & aestheticism

A 2011 study estimated global food waste to be about a third of edible parts of food produced for human consumption.

A 2013 report estimated that 30% – 50% of all food produced remains uneaten.

This year, an EU project estimated that 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU.

From 2017 to 2025, the EU aims to reduce food waste by at least 30%.

In order to tackle the pressing issue of food wastage, we look at the stages of production, processing, retailing and consumption.

In this post, I shall focus on retailing and the question of aesthetics.

Before produce such as fruits and vegetables arrive at the supermarket, they are checked for presentability – any oddity or imperfection and the produce will be chucked into the rejected corner. Food suppliers and supermarkets argue that consumers simply do not wish to purchase imperfect food as they seem inedible or even harmful for health.

This begs the question of aestheticism. By nature, many creatures use beauty as a measurement of viability, whether for mate or for food. By the theory of evolution, humans necessarily inherit similar taste for beauty. In the 1500s, Michelangelo created the perfect body of David, to be admired by the world till this day. Oscar Wilde too postulated that aestheticism is the “search after the secret of life”. Arguably, men cannot be blamed for want of perfection as it is a primal instinct; yet we have moved past our earlier minds to see beyond the surface and think.

If we continue our old habits, we will only let waste our resources, and ruin our earth. Eventually, hundreds or thousands of years later, aestheticism will be no longer as we will be unable to feed ourselves with earth’s barren land.

In 2014, Intermarche launched the Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables campaign which saw increase in sales and reduction in food wastage. This movement away from standard (commercialised) beauty is to be welcomed as did Dove’s Real Beauty campaign  . Our constant obsession with what is basically a primordial instinct will not serve to progress our human race.

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