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Dustbin to dinner :Ministers served binned food

Vegetables that were considered waste were served to global environment ministers at a dinner held at the UNEP headquarters to highlight global food waste.
Dustbin to dinner :Ministers served binned food

A Kenyan farmer harvesting green beans:image courtesy of Tony Karumba

Feb 21, 2013

The green beans are fresh, the broccoli crunchy and the baby corn sweet, but having failed "cosmetic" tests of international supermarkets, the Kenyan-grown food was hurled out as waste.

On Tuesday however, vegetables considered too ugly for shop-shelves were served at a special dinner for some 100 global environment ministers and top-level delegations to highlight the "scandal" of large scale but entirely unnecessary food wastage.

The meal, held at the Nairobi-based UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), was organised by anti-food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, who collected some 1,600 kilogrammes of unwanted fruit and vegetables in Kenya for the meal.

"No economic, environmental or ethical argument can be made to justify the extent of food waste," UNEP chief Achim Steiner told the dinner, where the previously binned food was served up by top chefs.

UNEP is campaigning to slash the current 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year as part of efforts to ease the environmental impact on an "already straining global food system".

Kenya is a key market for export of fresh vegetables to European supermarkets, especially to Britain.

But similar displays of the "disproportionate power of supermarkets" over farmers producing for export are found worldwide, Stuart said, showing images of rotting bananas in Ecuador, oranges in Florida or tomatoes in Tenerife.

"It is a huge scandal, but also a huge opportunity" for change, said Stuart, who said he was "genuinely shocked and distressed" at the amount of vegetables in Kenya rejected by supermarkets and thrown away.

Stuart criticised the "particularly pernicious practices" of international supermarkets with overly strict standards for appearance that will bin beans for being too long or not green enough.

Supermarkets also cancel orders after vegetables had been harvested, added Stuart, a British environmental campaigner who created the 'Feeding the 5,000' organisation to encourage cuts in food waste.

 

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