The wonky distortion of the human race.

Whilst on an inappropriately early train to London one cold Monday morning, I picked up a copy of the National Geographic. As I poured over achingly beautiful scenes shot by people living a life that I can only dream of whilst sitting on this smelly train, I came across the article ‘Waste Not’.

The article focused on food waste and the fact that shockingly a third of the planet’s food goes to waste. At a point in our history marred by war and poverty when the world has seemingly developed so much, how can this be allowed?

Primarily, it is a global focus on aesthetics that drives such food waste, of course there are many other contributing factors such as an inability to only buy exactly what food we need and use up what we have without throwing out sluggish lettuce that has been allowed to congeal at the bottom of one’s fridge. The UK supermarket scene is under growing pressure to limit the amount of food it wastes and following a French law banning the disposal of unsold goods, people are feeling the heat of our costly lifestyles more than ever (or is that just the earth heating up from all the greenhouse gases produced in our wasteful lifestyles?).

Our generation, ever-increasingly dominated by social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, is nervingly dependent on aesthetics. From choosing the right filter to suggest that you always wake up looking like Snow White on a good day, to crafting the perfect shot that suggests that you do not in fact resemble a sweaty raspberry post workout. This aesthetic obsession is passed onto our food and ultimately the humble vegetable. What we buy in the supermarket is now dominated by beauty and how we think the food looks, I know that I have been guilty in the past of passing over a perfectly decent apple for a shinier, rounder counterpart. But how can we judge the humble vegetable on appearance and wonkiness when people strut about with wonky boobs, crooked noses and other minor oddities? It’s true that people turn to plastic surgery to create their dream selves, but why must we turn on food and force it to submit to our need for perfection?

As someone that has in the past not been the most diligent in using everything up after a food shop, and has been known to impulse buy on occasion, I’m challenging myself to try and waste less food and not judge a wonky carrot by its looks. In fact, the next carrot I see with two limbs instead of one, I shall embrace as twice as nutritious as its single membered cousin.  After all, it’s the oddities of life that make it so fun and I think we need to stop worrying about perfection and embrace the world around us for all her bumps and niggles. I know I’m not perfect and I can’t expect the world to be, but it’s a hell of a lot better than I am and I am in no position to judge.

To start this effort I’m crafting today’s lunch entirely from leftovers from the family fridge, including an amalgamation of cold sausages, salad leaves, some couscous from a dinner party and other oddities, here’s hoping I don’t succumb to my own food poisoning. Additionally, on the family shop I spied a batch of “weather beaten apples” and felt a surge of triumph as I strode home with my sweet imperfections.

Have a look at this little website for some information on food waste in the British household and take a look at Sainsbury’s campaign to tackle food waste among its own customers, you may even find some inspiration for a dish you hadn’t thought of.

Emily Atkins

Born and bred in Bristol Emily is a girl with a love of the West country, but a niggling feeling that she needs to get out and see more of the world, starting with Scotland for university. When she's not writing, she's studying for her Classics degree, googling Mary Berry's latest recipes that inevitably she ruins on first attempt, and browsing the Lonely Planet dreaming of far away places to visit. Interested in everything from exercise and food, to literature and travel, she's always looking for new things to explore and learn.

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