On food waste, attitudes and Paris Hilton

Last night TransitionKW screened Dive: Living off America’s Waste, the last film in this season’s Tools for Change documentary series. The movie was great, and it generated a lot of insightful post-film discussion. So much so that I’m left with little to say.

I mean, I could write about a dozen things. I could describe just how much food gets wasted in Canada. I could list tips on how to decrease food waste at home. I could write a how-to on meal planning in southern Ontario. I could write a piece on composting, or urban composting, or Waterloo Region’s green bin program. Or I could discuss this neat photo essay, trying to figure out what it says about us. I could write about any of those things. And maybe I will sometime down the line. But I won’t today.

Instead, I’ll write about Paris Hilton.

So, a while back, Paris Hilton, heiress to a huge fortune, had a reality TV show. I think (read: hope) it has since been cancelled. Anyway, the gag at the centre of show was that Paris, having been transported to Small Town, USA, had difficulty coping with the reality that is life for the majority of Americans. In addition to the head-shaking that was generated by her blunders, audiences were amazed, or shocked rather, by Paris’s frivolity with money.

And why would she be anything but frivolous, right? Having a seeming infinite supply of the stuff, and not having an appreciation of the type of labour that us plebs put into earning a wage, why would she have a respect for money?

Interestingly, analogous ideas came up in our discussion last night. Having been disconnected from where our food comes from, and by extension having lost an understanding of the labour that goes into growing food, we have lost an appreciation for the work and time that is behind the food we eat. Likewise, grocery stores present us with an image of abundance of food; there’s always an overflowing shelf of tomatoes at the grocery store every day, all year ’round. Why concern ourselves with food waste when there’s (seemingly) so much of it, and when we’re completely removed from the care and toil that goes into producing the stuff? Our modern food system has caused us to lose sight of the inherent value of food, its sacredness, and maybe that’s the real issue at the heart of Dive.

Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere & the world becomes a market place for you. – Abraham Joshua Herschel

So in the spirit of that thought, let’s take a moment to shake-off our inner Paris Hiltons. Getting into composting, meal planning, and changing the way we pack our fridges are all key to reducing our food waste. But there’s value yet, I would say, in going back to the basics, and regaining a sense of awe and wonder and respect for food.


ps. in case your eyes are still hungry, here’s a few more great resources to help you reduce food waste (hat tip to Tracey).

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