BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
September 11 was a good day for reading the LATimes. One interesting item was about the “freegan” movement– combine “free” and “vegan”, “The key to a free lunch”.
It’s no longer just vegan, but the underlying principle of non-waste is important. Freegans currently exist on the periphery of society. They’ll scavenge food, clothing, furniture, etc. from various “trash” deposit sites–supermarkets, restauran’s, etc. This is clearly no way to live for the majority of the population. But, the U.S. creates 245 MILLION TONS of waste annually. That’s 490,000,000,000 POUNDS (divide this by your weight to discover how many of you get buried or incinerated annually) or 817,000 pounds per person. Of this, 12%, or 29.4 million tons, is food. Remember, this is after freegans and other dumpster divers have done their picking.
In more traditional, agrarian, societies, much of this would become compost, dog food, or pig slop. Not here. So we have this ridiculous situation of radical profligacy.
What’s worse is that Armenia’s are gradually going down the same road. Currently, the “don’t waste”, especially food, mantra is still strong among us. You don’t survive genocide without having (or developing) that ethic. Plus, to some degree we’re still, as a community, closer to the land and food production. We have not become so urbanized as to face the situation that children don’t know that fruit comes from trees.
The pressures driving us towards foolishness are strong though. We have nouveau riche-ism, “I want to show that I can afford to waste”. The consumerism driving American society also plays into this diseased state of mind. In earlier times, the grand feasts featured at ouor wedding s were probably a bit less grand, but more importantly, the leftovers were eaten, not wasted, for days after the wedding.
Then we have the overly cautious, dainty, prissy, hypersensitive approach to food. “Oh my gosh, the cheese got left out and got moldy, let’s throw it away!” Huh? What do these people think cheese is? It’s rotten milk. Get over it. Scrape off the mold, enjoy the rest. Let’s put things in perspective. I had read about some Amazonian tribe that hunts a particular porcine creature. It is a days-long process. The ones they kill are nailed high up in trees to keep them from other forest critters, then retrieved on the way back to their settlement. Meanwhile, they ferment, but are happily eaten with no ill effect. The human digestive system is a wondrous thing. It can handle, much more than we usually throw at it through our “civilized” diets. Let’s not contribute to the destruction of our planet’s life support systems under the guise of health and cleanliness.
Remember that the food we eat is produced at great cost to Earth’s biosphere. Think of the pesticides, herbicides, and animal dung that pollute our soil, water, and air during this production. A modicum of restraint in what we eat and drink has a big impact.
Let’s set a positive example as a community that has known deprivation, survived, and developed the wisdom not to waste.