Are we a wasteful Nation?

‘Waste not, want not’, is a phrase we can all remember our mothers uttering when we were kids. Back in the day, nothing was thrown away. Socks were stitched, trousers were mended, empty tins and jars were saved,  ‘just in case’. Food was valuable.  Not a morsel was ever discarded. Even the stuff we didn’t eat from our plates was only cleared amidst a barrage of complaints about how wasteful we were,  when there were folk out there who couldn’t afford a decent meal. You’ve all heard that one in your childhood.   Still, no matter how many times we heard it said, somewhere between then and now,  that old fashioned means of good housekeeping practiced by our parents and grandparents got forgotten. We became a people of plenty. We could always get a new thing to replace the broken one. It didn’t matter if we didn’t fancy eating the leftovers from the previous day’s dinner. We’d just feed them to the dog and buy a takeaway instead. A recent report suggests things are much worse in food waste today, than the gripes our parents had about clearing a few uneaten scraps from a plate. Of the four billion tonnes of food  produced annually worldwide,  a third of that will never be eaten, according to research. Up to half the food items we purchase are thrown away without being used.   When you see the figures written down,  it makes a very large impact on how far we have sunk in terms of good housekeeping qualities. Hard to say exactly why have we’ve become a ‘throwaway’ society in food terms. A simple case of buying way more necessary,  then throwing it in the bin without a second thought when we don’t use it up?  The temptation of cheap food for all and mountains of supermarket special offers make it difficult to resist a bargain.  Should we pay more for food in order to appreciate it better? So many people complain about a trip to a farmer’s market, and ask why when they are buying direct from a grower or producer,  is it more expensive than buying the equivalent product in a supermarket.  Handmade artisan produce is more labour intensive to create than mass produced food. Producers, farmers and growers are individuals who deserve to get a fair price for their effort. Also, the fact you usually pay in cash at a market stall perhaps brings it home how much good food really costs,  in a more understandable way than handing over the plastic at a till in the supermarket does. This method of purchasing has divorced us all from the reality of parting with the hard earned. After all those considerations, the old chestnut that you get what you pay for still rings true. Perhaps if it costs a little extra, you’ll buy exactly the amount you need and actually eat it all. Because one thing’s for sure – in our weird consumer mentality of today, we have reached a point where we don’t seem to fully appreciate anything that comes too cheap or too easy.