My more long term readers will know I have a bit of a thing about how we consume, and how we waste. But it's not just me at the moment. Since January food has been in the news an awful lot. From the masses amount we waste to the horse-meat scandal. In January it was revealed that as much as 50% of food that is produced worldwide is never eaten and in Europe up to 50% of the food we purchase is thrown away.
image from myzerowaste.com
Something seems to be going wrong with both supply and demand. There is not enough accountability in the long and circuitous routes our food has to travel, but we are also not demanding better (at least not until folk realised they were eating Dobbin instead of Ermintrude). The cost of food does seem to be rising and many are struggling to eat well and healthily in the current financial climate, but the amount we spend on food as a percentage of our income over the last 70 years has massively shrunk. We expect to have cash to spend on other things, so want to keep food costs as low as possible. This has surely contributed to both these crises - of cheap and therefore untraceable meat, and the feeling that we can waste food because we didn't spend that much on it in the first place.
Having just celebrated Purim, we are now rapidly approaching Pesach (passover), when much of the Jewish community becomes obsessed with what they are eating and what traces of chametz might be found where. We have been quite pleased with ourselves in recent weeks that kosher meat could not have been tainted with horse DNA and that our supply routes are very clear and identifiable. But as we celebrate the festival of freedom, there is a huge amount to consider in how we make our seder a source of freedom for those who produce our food, for those going hungry, and to remind us that while we celebrate our freedom, the ways we consume can be enslaving others.
So over the coming weeks as we prepare for seder I am going to be blogging about how we can make Passover a part of how we change our own behaviours and reflect on how we can do better in small symbolic ways and real practical ones.
Last year I excitedly told readers about the newly available organic kosher chickens. It has previously been very difficult to source organic kosher meat because the Soil Association (who own the label 'organic') disapprove of Shechita (kosher slaughter). Happily there are now ways around this and for the second year running you can now buy your organic kosher chickens. To find out where you can buy them just click here. For us as a family this may mean eating less meat. But that is ok. For me it is more important that what we consume reflects our values both in terms of kashrut and ethical consumption. So we will spend more and prioritise differently. Perhaps this might also mean valuing more and wasting less.
The Seder plate is full of symbols of freedom and slavery. Perhaps what is on our dinner plates and on our backs can also be part of the symbolism, but also become a regular part of our lives, expressing how we want the world to be, and making it real.