Readers in Council,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I worry that students might be confused about the issues of food wastage, environmental stewardship, community and social welfare after reading the story “Second Harvest gives YMCA school kids food for thought” (March 1, 2008). Admittedly, there is a gross amount of food wastage by restaurants, supermarkets, and by private citizens in their own kitchens here and abroad. And not only food wastage, but water wastage as well - the precious water used in the water-intensive practices of agriculture and animal husbandry. But the fact is that so far as restaurants and supermarkets are concerned, they are required by public food safety laws to throw away food that might very well still be safely consumed. The wastage might look ugly, but whether we know it or not it is for our own good and we all benefit.
Furthermore, in restaurants and at home, once customers pay for and take possession of food, the food is their legal property, and they may use it, abuse it, and dispose of it as they please with impunity, so far as they do not transgress the law. That is true of any private property. It’s called freedom. So it is disturbing when non-governmental groups like Second Harvest start getting suspiciously preachy about our social as well as private behavior. Do such groups advocate the passage of laws to impinge on and restrict the private use of property by citizens? I hope not.
It is well known that food shortages in the world have a record of artificiality, since more is grown than is needed. We have a food surplus in the world, and have had for a long time. Hunger, famine, and starvation in modern times have a shocking record of being attributable to human interference in, or manipulation of food delivery. Of course, it is possible that food safety laws that require restaurants and supermarkets to throw away food after a certain passage of time represent just such food delivery interference. But I do not need Second Harvest to point that out to me.