The Problem With Our Pursuit of Perfection
There’s a growing problem in Australia. I don’t know if it’s exacerbated by the rise of the food blogger, the reality cooking shows on TV, and Instagram, but I would be willing to place money on those things not helping. The problem is the expectation for perfection in food – the refusal to use the imperfect Vegetable.
Yesterday, on my way into work, I listened to a very interesting interview on ABC radio. The main focus of the interview was on food waste. Apparently, most Australians throw out a ridiculously large amount of food that they purchase in the grocery shopping.
This morning I did some further digging. According to the NSW EPA website: Love Food Hate Waste, NSW households throw away more than 800,000 tonnes of edible food every year. That equates to $10 billion dollars, or an average of $3,800 per household – every year.
The problem is further enhanced by our lack of willingness to buy the funny looking fruit and veg at the supermarket. Apparently we have very narrow expectations for what out produce should look like, and if it doesn’t meet that expectation, it just isn’t purchased. The imperfect vegetable stays behind, languishing in the corner, completely unloved and slowly rotting.
I’m guilty of that. I often pick up and look over a few plums before choosing the ones that look the best, the ones with fewest imperfections. But my attitude and, it appears, everyone else’s (surprise!), is having a massive social impact. It means that perfectly edible food is finding its way to landfill. That must mean two things – we end up with less food, and we end up with higher prices.
World’s Worst Food Blogger – The Imperfect Vegetable
Those of you familiar with this section of the blog know that I’m not the ‘Pintrest Worthy’, ‘Instagram Famous’ type of food blogger. As I explained here, I’ve never figured out how they find the time between making a meal and eating it, to find the perfect angle in the perfect lighting, in order to take the photo. I like to cook and I like the way that the food that I cook tastes, that’s all that really matters. Hence the moniker of World’s Worst Food Blogger.
Today, however, I have spent a long time photographing a piece of food. DON’T PANIC! It’s not for the purpose of food blogging supremacy. Rather, it’s so that I can bring to you the awesomeness of the Non-Perfect Vegetable!
I stumbled across this battered bad-boy in amongst the potatoes at the supermarket today. Normally, I would have walked straight past it, without a second glance. I would have concentrated on picking out the best looking potatoes without thinking for a moment about the impact that such a decision has on the entire food supply.
But today, with my new-found sense of self-righteousness, I picked it straight up and put it in my basket.
Does my purchase of one, slightly funny-looking potato save the world? Of course not, don’t be daft. Really, the difference that it makes is absolute bugger-all. If I’m truly honest, I bought the potato as much to have something to write about, as to secure our nation’s food supply.
What it does do is make me begin to think. How much food are we wasting in this house? Can it be avoided? Am I too precious about seeking perfection at the shops? Am I too quick to throw out food that I deem to be ‘past its best’? Perhaps, if we all began to ask those questions, then things may begin to change.
The Good news is that there are those out there who are far more noble than I am, in their mission to change our food habits. OzHarvest have just opened Australia’s first ‘rescued food’ supermarket, while the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority has just begun a new study into kitchen waste. Any NSW residents interested in participating can find out more here. Check out both of these great websites for more information about what you can do to reduce food waste.