Monthly Archives: October 2013

There have been several alarming stories concerning food shortages in recent years, most notably the ‘2008 food price crisis’ that led to unrest in several countries while a lack of food in the third world is an intrinsic and ongoing problem. In this context any major food wastage is justifiably alarming . It is perhaps the rise of food banks in this country due to the financial situation of many families in this country that makes the news of 30.000 tonnes wasted by Tesco hit home however – especially since this is more than likely to be matched by similar but unpublished figures at other major supermarkets.

Despite this it is important that we don’t forget the global context. As recently as September 2013 a UN report found that uneaten food occupies 1.4 billion hectares of land – about 30 percent of the earth’s agricultural land area. According to the FAO high-income regions and Latin America are together responsible for around 80 percent of meat wastage, while Asia ranks highly in wastage of cereals and vegetables. When food is an essential resource the problem of wastage is therefore not constricted to a fixed set of countries, it is fundamentally a global issue. And so, among the images of destruction wrought by the ongoing Syrian conflict a lack of food for refugees is inevitably a lesser but no less lethal issue. In Lebanon, one of the many neighbouring Syrian countries struggling with the number of refugees across the border the UN has been forced to reduce food aid to prioritize limited resources while the Red Cross has stated ‘Syrian refugees lack food, water to survive each and every day.’

Is wastage in this country the result of how food, within a capitalist system is in certain contexts an expendable product where the wider issue of its existence as a shared resource is largely a non-issue. Like we clamour to buy the shiniest and sleekest version of various gadgets does it seems the pleasing image of food find in, for example advertising persuades us to ignore less aesthetic but perfectly and nutritious fruit and vegetables. Now, I am not going to lie and state I am a prefect human being who has not been guilty of this mindset on occasions. Yet, as a university student, however, I was to degree forced to buy what must have been more than a tone of Tesco value peppers; cheap and not as flashy but as I soon learned, no less tasty as the more expensive middle or finest ranges.

It is idealistic then, perhaps, but in a wealthy country we should not be driven to desperation to overcome this attitude.

That we enjoy the press enjoy freedom in this country is a valuable gift; a gift which is restricted or not awarded at all to those in China and Vietnam, and in the past, South American regimes like those in Pinochet’s Chile, Hugo Banzer’s Bolivia or Jorge Videla’s Argentina. In North Korea any criticism, however small, of the regime’s leadership or its legacy may result in being to imprisoned in the countries death camps where torture will likely await its victims.

China North Korea Journalists Held

Journalism should be used to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, for example, prisoners of North Korea’s prison camps.

Communist regimes have killed millions but to solely concentrate on this and ignore the crimes against humanity enacted by fascist regimes – Mussolini’s and those of Spain’s fascists included – during the same period is surely the very antithesis of balanced journalism. At its best it can be described as misguided, at its worst, propaganda. To base the core of your argument the diary of a 17 year old who had just fled the Nazis as the Daily Mail did surely goes against not just basic editorial research but common sense. I had many beliefs myself at seventeen which have evolved since; I’m sure most people’s beliefs have changed throughout their life experiences.

It is important to recognise that other newspapers like the Sunday Mirror have been guilty of similar practises not withstanding the whole hacking scandal, when in 2007 they reported on the contents of Mr Cameron’s bin, and criticised him for using non-biodegradable nappies. What this tells us, however, is that standards must be held across the media and how, critically, politics (left or right-wing) can distort journalism into a ugly medium of smear and misleading information.

To those who use this issue to raise the prospect of regulation; the condemnation of the Daily Mail is not about stifling the debate or censorship but rather a call by the decent people of this country to use journalism maturely, ethically and responsibly. That is, rather than dragging it through the gutter like The Daily Mail do on a daily basis with their attacks on minorities or anyone else who don’t fit into their narrow moral view.

It is a right which we should hold dear and protect but in doing so retain its value, integrity and ability to assist those without a voice – for example, Stephen Grey’s (of Thomson Reuters) work to expose America’s rendition programme – instead of unfairly attacking them in death. And, yes, this includes Margaret Thatcher.