THERE’S something rotten about a state where good food is sent to landfill or to produce energy while people go hungry. Yet this paper’s special report reveals that 2.9 million tons of surplus farm produce is being dumped or used for purposes other than eating.
It includes carrots, courgettes, mushrooms, cauliflowers, lettuce, potatoes, onions, apples and pears — almost all of which feature in our shops, imported from abroad. Granted some of it is from cereals and sugarbeet, which we are also importing. This is enough to provide the equivalent of seven billion meals a year. At a time when the UK has a problem of food dependency on imports, this is a scandal.
This paper is already leading the way in redistributing surplus food from retailers to food banks, charities and schools through our partnership with The Felix Project. And as our proprietor, Evgeny Lebedev, makes clear in his commentary, there is a straightforward way to ensure that this surplus food does not go to landfill or biomass but to food banks which need it. That is for the Government to spend £25 million to distribute the food from the producers who cannot sell it, away from the biomass factories, to people who can’t afford it.
It is a modest outlay which would be repaid many times over in addressing food inequality. This figure is a fraction of the £750 million we spend on subsidising waste plants that produce energy and fertiliser from food: we’re not talking about extra expenditure, but spending some of that money better.
We can all reduce food waste; we should be eating more home-grown produce and embracing wonky vegetables. Taking food from those who produce it to those who need it isn’t hard. It needs political will: over to you, ministers.
Cops behaving badly
ANOTHER day, another charge against a Met officer for serious sex offences, while other ex-officers have been charged with sending racist messages on a WhatsApp group. The trouble is, we’ve got to the point where we’ve ceased to be shocked. Last week in this paper, Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley promised that change was on the way for his force. It cannot happen soon enough.
THE riotous reception for The Rolling Stones’ launch of Hackney Diamonds gives hope to all. Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 80 this year, with Ronnie Wood, the baby at 76, are the Peter Pans of rock — still having fun. Even the late Charlie Watts played from the grave. They may give other pensioners pause: this is where riotous living gets you.