Wasting Food

food-wasteAccording to reports by United Nations Environment Programme and the World Resource institute, about one third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When converted to calories, it means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never eaten. This food is wasted for several reasons. Much is lost because it does not fulfill the aesthetic requirements of shops, and hence indirectly, consumers. And of the food that is actually bought, a lot is thrown away, and some of it due to expiration dates being set too early. It is clear that food wastage is a massive problem and it reveals some interesting characteristics of the human being, and also many opportunities of self-correction, where we as humanity can change ourselves on a individual level, to as such make an impact globally.

What does food wastage show us about ourselves? It shows us that we do not value the labor and energy that has gone into creating that food – for us – food has become only a number – a cost that we buy using money. Though, fact is that food is more than a number, because to create each produce we eat, an investment of real resources had to be made. The farmer had to put in great effort to grow his crops and care for his cattle. The slaughter had to exert himself with determination and strength to slaughter and prepare the meat for consumption. And nature, the animals, and plants had to offer themselves, their lives, to nurture and support our continued existence. As such, food cannot be measured in money, food is a work of art, that has been given a attention and energy to end up in the supermarkets where we are used to seeing it.

When we take food and only eat some of it, or we buy too much, and throw away the things that we allow to go bad, what are we thus really saying? In-fact it is an act of negligence and ignorance to treat food as having no value – negligent because there is not much we need to change about ourselves to become a more considerate and effective when it comes to handling our food – and ignorant because we do not see the amount of work that has gone into the food, which we so easily make a decision to throw away.

Thus, if we wish to stop waste in this world, we must begin with ourselves, and understand that wastefulness occurs not only with food, but it is the way in which we have come to live. Our entire society is based on waste, and the false belief that there are eternal resources, eternal opportunities, and eternal energy for us to consume without consequences. Truth is that, there is no such thing as a free lunch – and for each resource we waste – there is one resource less to be used.

Though, let us take this one step further, and ask ourselves, where are we wasting ourselves? Fact is that as with all things that we create on the outside, we are also creating and living them inside of ourselves. Are we not wasteful with ourselves, and our own potential when we accept and allow ourselves to give up on our future, and what we know we can create for ourselves, because we do not feel motivated? Are we not wasteful when we decide to not do the most with ourselves, and our lives? Are we not wasteful when we decide to throw away our talents, because we do not experience ourselves as having the energy to develop them? Are we not wasteful when we throw away moments in our day to get to know ourselves, and our mind better, because we accept and allow ourselves to be afraid of self-intimacy? Are we not wasteful when we spend hours, upon hours in a emotional reaction, time that we could have instead used to LIVE and participate HERE?

There are many ways that waste come through within ourselves, in our lives, and thus, in this world. And it is important for us to investigate how we are wasting, so that we can stop this behavior, and instead live our lives within the starting point of using – and as such – being useful instead of wasteful.

How can we change ourselves to direct the waste that occurs in our daily lives into a using and usefulness? Because in answering, and living the answer to these questions, we can make a big difference for others and ourselves as well – as we stand as an example of what it means to respect the life within us and this world – where we do not accept and allow waste to exist within us.

Waste happens when we do not push ourselves to see the value in what is here, to appreciate to what is here, and be grateful for what is here. Waste happens when we take things for granted. Waste happens when we become caught in our desires, and our urge to experience things, and we miss the reality, the universe of life that is here as a part of our world. WASTE occurs when we walk through life in HASTE, thinking about only our own WAIST – and not understanding that our actions and inactions have consequences. Hence, as a first step to change the massive waste that happens daily in this world on a myriad of levels, let us change ourselves – and make sure that we are not accepting and allowing waste to take place in any form within ourselves, or our lives.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed.

Corruption, Poverty and Capitalism

There is a clear correlation between the amount of corruption and the level of economic welfare that exists in a country. In countries that are rich, corruption is not as frequent as in countries that are poor. This shows us some fascinating points about human nature – and it also reveals solutions for how to deal with the tendency humans have to become corrupted, dishonest, and fraudulent when placed in positions of public power.

bribery-corruptionThere are a few things about human nature that are obvious: We all have an inner drive geared towards self-preservation. If we had to choose between us dying, and someone we do not know dying, most of us would have the other person die. And really, there is nothing strange about this. Self-preservation is an innate trait most forms of life on earth – each organism wants to survive and reproduce. Hence, when we are placed in a position of shortage, we will find ways to get out of it – and if it is required – do that at the expense of another.

Then, we have this human characteristic called greed. If we look deeper at the nature of greed, we can see that greed in-fact consists of a deep-seated fear. Greed is the tendency we have to take more than we need, because we fear that we might need that more in the future, and we ‘just’ want to be on the safe side if something unexpected were to happen. Hence, greed is a form of self-preservation, though a more aggressive, and irrational variety – because where greed is involved – there is not an actual need to preserve self.

Moreover, we have a thing called competition. Most people drive themselves through life in a state of competition. They want to compete against neighbors, friends, acquaintances – they want a better car, house, family, etc. Competition thrives in areas/environments where there exists a lack of resources. For example, in an environment where there is little money, the competition for the money will be greater. And when there is a aggressive competition, there will be incentives to cheat, and incentives to preserve self at the cost of another.

We thus have these three ingredients: Self-preservation, greed, and competition – all of which can be said to be ‘natural’ parts of the human experience. And with natural I mean that most people have or develop such traits from an early age – though this does not imply that such traits are impossible to change and direct. No, all of these traits can be directed – and it is possible to change self to not anymore exist within and as self-interest. Though for this blog let us continue with corruption.

We have established that there are certain characteristics in the human nature that is typically part of the human experience. Now, what is clear is that these characteristics represent the foundation, the underlying reasons that will shape and form the decision of an individual to corrupt themselves. And what is fascinating is that these characteristics will become highlighted in a state where there is poverty, and lack of resources to go around. In such a scenario the average human being will start to think only about themselves, and how to make decisions that will benefit their life, and how they can get out of the precarious situation they find themselves in.

We can read the following in an article from Forbes magazine:

“The links between corruption and poverty affect both individuals and businesses, and they run in both directions: poverty invites corruption, while corruption deepens poverty. Corruption both causes and thrives upon weaknesses in key economic, political and social institutions. It is a form of self-serving influence akin to a heavily regressive tax, benefiting the haves at the expense of the have-nots. Trust–essential to financial markets and effective governments everywhere–is difficult to build in poor and corrupt societies.

Poor people and economically strapped businesses have few economic alternatives, and where serious corruption is the norm, they are even more vulnerable to exploitation. In that sense, there is no such thing as “petty” corruption: police shakedowns in a public market, or roadblocks in the countryside where farmers must pay up in order to transport produce to the city, may yield seemingly trivial sums of money, but they help keep poor people poor.

Low-level officials themselves may have trouble earning an honest living. In poor societies, they are often underpaid, when they are paid at all, and must provide a stream of payments to patrons at higher levels. In such settings, bribery, extortion and theft become matters of survival.” (Johnston 2009)

When survival becomes difficult, corruption flourish, hence corruption is a symptom not the actual illness. The real illness is poverty, and poverty is a structural effect of our current debt based money system – also called – capitalism.

”To reduce corruption from its current high levels requires something more than, and different from, additional laws, commissions, invocations of morality, regulations and so on. It requires basic, structural economic change. Earlier reforms achieved so little success because they ignored the very idea or possibility of such change. They left untouched capitalism’s basic incentive structure and capitalists’ power to use enterprise profits for corrupt purposes. Capitalists have continued to face all the benefits and gains that corrupted officials can yield (plus the risks and costs of failing to corrupt them). Capitalists have likewise continued to amass ever-larger profits and thus the funds with which to corrupt.” (Wolff 2014)

It is easy to blame human nature for being the cause of greed, yet at the same time, when we are able to map out and understand how the human functions, would it not then be easy to create a system where these characteristics are not allowed to fester? Is it not possible, that in a system where money is abundant, where opportunities are ripe, and there are no valid reasons to fear for your own survival, that self-preservation, greed and competition would cease to exist?

Maybe we can even stretch this even further, is it maybe so, that self-preservation, greed and competition are products of this current system, characteristics that are not supposed to be part of the human nature? In any case it is obvious, that if we were to restructure our money system and distribute resources equally, this would have massive positive effects on the human population. It has been shown that equality improves, among other things, physical health, mental health and education, and lessens drug abuse and obesity (Wilkinsson, Pickett & Reich 2011).

Corruption is an illness created by inequality and a unfair distribution of resources. We can change this be implementing a new system of distribution – capitalism is not and have never been the only way to structure and organize human labor, productivity and resource distribution. I suggest that we implement a Living Income Guaranteed – a Guaranteed monthly income that is sufficient to sustain a human being so that they can tend to their basic needs.

According to article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all humans have the right to life, though it is obvious that this right cannot be realized unless we implement a system that gives all the money they require creating their lives. Hence, money is a human right and not something that should be subject to conditions and demands.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed.

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Michael Johnston (2009). Poverty and Corruption. Forbes Magazine. http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/corruption-poverty-development-biz-corruption09-cx_mj_0122johnston.html [2015-10-14]

Richard D. Wolff (2014). Political Corruption and Capitalism. Truthout. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21559-political-corruption-and-capitalis [2015-10-15]

Richard Wilkinsson, Kate Pickett, Robert B. Reich (2011). The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Bloomsbury publishing