How the heck do you have a low waste food system without animals?
Its disconcerting how often I see on Zero Waste social media, posts telling people to stop eating meat, when farmers are the original Zero Wasters!
This topic actually deserves a much deeper post, and I need to come back with more data for those who are interested in this kind of issue. However, the thoughts that come to mind are broadly as follows:
With crops, only part of the crop may be grown for human consumption (ie soya beans or barley), but the rest of the crop (the waste) gets eaten by animals – and turned into a nutrient dense and tasty food.
Crops grown predominantly for human consumption may be affected by rain, or drought, or a pest invasion, and are no longer suitable or up to grade for human consumption. But the crop will still be completely suitable for animals. Again, rather than going to waste, that wasted crop gets turned back into food that people can eat.
Its estimated that around 30% of grocery food is wasted. Most of this is wasted at a supermarket level – mainly because consumers won’t buy less than perfect fresh produce, or buy groceries too close to the expiry date. Thankfully, a lot of this waste is also feed to animals, but it is a huge problem that our food system needs to get on top of.
Most farmers grow what they can (although frankly I’m a bit crap). We support natural fibres. We compost. We reuse. We eat nose to tail, and use the poo from our animals to replenish nutrients in the soil. Farmers are not usually big consumers – we try to buy things we know will last, and are very clear on our Needs versus Wants.
I have always thought of farmers as being the original Zero Wasters, and its such a shame that some of these groups on Facebook have people that are so negative about farming, when actually they have so much in common.
Speaking of which, Dan and I found an oxtail in the freezer this morning – will be great for some soup tomorrow.
(Photo from Eric Zhu, Unsplash)