Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Taste the Waste

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Taste the Waste

Article excerpt

Taste the Waste (DVD, 2010, 55 minutes: Thurn Films, Germany; http://www.tastethe waste.com; dvd@schnittstelle-koeln.de; $85)

What an exciting time to be teaching biology, ecology, or environmental sciences! It feels (to this bio teacher) like we are waking up after a long slumber to the realities and responsibilities of life on this planet. This fabulously entertaining, 55-minute DVD begins with a quote from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization: "Food is life, and more than half of food is thrown away, most of it before it even reaches the dinner table." Food activism is part of that awakening.

A friend, unpacking my groceries, after pulling out a succession of packaged fish heads, shrink-wrapped beef marrow bones, and assorted cheese ends, remarked, "Are these groceries or your compost?" I take pride in composting, bread baking, yogurt and catfood making, but watching this DVD, I realized that my savings are but "a drop in the bucket" compared with the total amount of wasted, potentially consumable food on this planet where 16,000 children die per day from hunger-related causes.

Forty-five kilograms (99.2 pounds) of edible food is thrown away per supermarket per day, concluded a 10-week study done by the Waste Management Institute in Vienna, Austria. Most of this food is discarded well before the "pull date," a date set by the food industry, which, except for meat, fish, and eggs, has no relevance to human health.

In interviews with farmers, beekeepers, artists, food-bank administrators, bakers, refinery owners, community-supported farmers, gleaners, and Green Party members, Taste the Waste (TTW) reveals the causes of and remedies (some of the latter fantastical or futuristic) for the colossal waste that characterizes our food economy.

My favorite TTW characters include the "dumpster-divers," retrieving still-wrapped, fresh flowers from supermarket discards, and Veronique, a chatty, brightly dressed Cameroonian food-bank worker, sorting supermarket trash to rescue the edibles for hungry food-bank "patrons." Cameroonian bananas are exported to Europe and North America, grown by farmers who are unable to afford them. Adding injury to insult, unsold bananas are relegated to the trash.

But the waste starts before the supermarket. …

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