Rodney Hide: Waste is a dish for the poor

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Green MP Denise Roche called for an end to food-waste from supermarkets being sent to landfill. Photo / John Stone
Green MP Denise Roche called for an end to food-waste from supermarkets being sent to landfill. Photo / John Stone

This week, Green MP Denise Roche called for an end to food-waste from supermarkets being sent to landfill. Her ban would divert "good food that can be used ... to people who need it".

What's more, she says, such a ban would create jobs, "they're Green jobs, which we always like".

In a flash, it has become Green policy to sponsor dumpster diving.

It must be miserable being Green.

When I walk into the supermarket I am amazed at the astonishing array of fresh and delicious produce. I love it.

Roche walks in and is appalled at the waste and expense.

Her plan to save on landfill space is to divert waste food to the tummies of poor people.

The poor are to become portable compost bins.

My supermarket manager says their sophisticated logistics and planning systems mean there is very little waste.

They discount food nearing the end of its shelf life. They donate food not good enough for their shelves but still able to be safely eaten to charity. Their old vegetables go to pig farms.

Very little is wasted.

They know the demand, they have strict inventory control and they can discount accordingly. That's what running a successful business requires. Businesses that waste valuable resources don't survive.

My supermarket manager says he wouldn't eat the small amount he sends to the dump. It's not safe to do so.

I can well imagine. I found it horrible enough when the Government tried to make schoolchildren drink milk that had been cooked in the sun. It was disgusting. I shudder to think of the Government dishing up food destined for landfill.

I marvel at the logistics of co-ordinating with suppliers and transport companies to get fresh food on to supermarket shelves.

But Roche will have none of that. The "economic chain is broken" and "the market is just a simple solution to what is in this case a complex problem".

I remember communist Bucharest in the winter of 1981. The food was rationed, it was inedible, the people were hungry. The waste was shocking.

I travelled through to Vienna and walked into a supermarket. It was glorious. I had escaped from hell to heaven by train.

There were no queues of hungry people stretched down the road in the snow and the dark.

In that wonderfully warm, lit supermarket, staring at that delicious array of food any lingering hankering I had for socialism evaporated.

It's easy to imagine a better world than the one we see around us.

The Greens do that and always propose banning what they don't like - that's becoming a very long list.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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