It makes you think..........
Adelaide was always concerned that she lived in a bubble of like-minded people at St Kilda. Not that she and Erik were that well off, neither of them had well paid jobs, and apparently they lived a reasonably frugal life. But they both had the confidence of higher education and middle class backgrounds, and valued their free time as much as money. As a so-called 'public intellectual' Adelaide was quick to see injustice or deprivation and speak out about it. One of her blogs in early 2015 spoke about the wastage of food;
I read two related statistics recently that appalled me and should be read together by all of us. The first is that we throw out more than $7.8 billion worth of food annually. The second is that over 300,000 people in Victoria can't afford to obtain nutritious food regularly. Now read these sentences again slowly: we throw out more than $7.8 billion worth of food annually and over 300,000 people in Victoria can't afford to obtain nutritious food regularly! And as a further corollary, more than 600,000 of us were unemployed, and every night 100,000 of us are sleeping on the streets. The first message was reinforced when a guy in a supermarket told me casually that a great deal of the 'fresh' food on display would be tossed out at the end of that day. He claimed the reasons were short shelf life, over-ordering and what he called consumer expectations of perfect produce.
Then I heard about an excellent organization called Second-Bite who collect discarded food from markets and who distributed 880 tonnes of fresh food to worthy places in Melbourne in 2010. The government backed it up by passing the Good Samaritan Act so that people who donate food for charitable purposes are protected from any liability and they now collect food from markets and food stores regularly. They are only able to save a small part of the three million tonnes of food that goes into landfill every year. Let me repeat it again, three million tonnes of food just dumped while some people don't have enough to eat!
And as Second Bite point out, it 's not just the waste of good food. The embedded water used in the production of this food could supply Melbourne and Sydney for an entire year and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by untold amounts. Any food that Second-Bite can't distribute goes to a couple of farms where it's fed to the animals. This situation is clearly not one that is supportable, it's far too wasteful and we'll have to become much less wasteful if we are to survive as a sustainable and civilised society over the next thirty years. I asked SecondBite if we could help by providing a solar powered cool room at VegOut where their food could be stored until it was distributed. They were quick to accept, and the food goes from here to places like the Sacred Heart Mission in Grey Street and the Salvos who both feed the homeless.
And out of my trawling around about food I discovered another initiative that VegOut ended up emulating directly. The Castlemaine Community House started harvesting fruit trees around their area when they found there were lots of fruit trees in backyards where the fruit wasn't being picked; it simply fell on the ground and rotted. In the end they collected over 3,000 kilos of fruit from abandoned trees, boxes of apples and pears were given to schools, and 200 jars of jam were distributed to people who had suffered in the January floods. They called their program 'Growing Abundance.' I thought it was a great idea, VegOut has a few apricot trees and a few of us always make and bottle jam from this fruit every year, but our men's shed guys were quick to take up the idea and found the same situation existed as at Castlemaine. Even in our more urbanised area in Port Phillip, they found over 1,500 kilos of fruit going to waste, and we now have a real bottling session for jam and preserved fruit as part of the cycle of the seasons.