economy | ecology | society
D/ROK/NL/F/J/USA/CAM/I/A 2011 | 88 min
© 2010 Valentin Thurn
Täglich wird in den Supermärkten aussortiert, noch gut essbare Lebensmittel wandern in die Tonne.
Why do we throw away so much? And how can we stop this kind of waste?
Amazing but true: On the way from the farm to the dining-room table, more than half the food lands on the dump. Most of it before it ever reaches consumers. For instance every other head of lettuce or potato.

When it comes right down to it, no one actually thinks this is okay: Food is not something to be thrown away “because others have nothing to eat”, as younger people would say, and as for the elderly: “I was around during the war and we were glad to get our hands on every crust of bread!” That’s one side of the story. They discover the other side when they venture a look into dumpsters: behind their local supermarket and, if they can summon up enough courage, in the trash cans outside their own door. We’re not talking about chicken bones and potato peels here. The topic at hand is perfectly edible food, some still in the original packaging, and frequently enough not even the ‘best before’ date has expired. Around 100 pounds per household each year. Even more, about twice as much, is ‘rejected’ on fields, in factories and at retailers.

Why are ever-greater quantities being destroyed? We seek explanations: from supermarket sales staff and managers, from bakers, wholesale market inspectors, welfare recipients, ministers, farmers and EU bureaucrats. It’s a system that we all take part in: Supermarkets constantly have the complete selection of merchandise on offer, the bread on the shelves has to be fresh until late in the evening, strawberries are in demand at any time of the year. And everything has to look just right: One withered leaf of lettuce, a crack in a potato or a dent in an apple and the goods are sorted out; containers of yogurt as early as two days before the ‘sell by’ date has expired.

Agriculture is responsible for more than a third of the greenhouse gases worldwide because farming requires energy, fertilizers and land. What’s more, whenever food rots away at a garbage dump, methane escapes into the atmosphere, a climate gas with an effect 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. In other words, when we waste half of our food that has a disastrous impact on the world climate.

And on famine, too. My mother always reminded me to eat everything on my plate: “Children in Africa would be glad to have that food.” We children never took her seriously. How were the leftovers on our plates supposed to get to African children? Yet my mother’s statement proved to be as good as prophetic. The rising prices of wheat clearly illustrate the point: These days we buy our food on the same world market where developing countries buy theirs. If we threw away less and bought less as a result, the prices would drop and more would be left for the hungry.

Original titleTaste The Waste
SubtitleDie globale Lebensmittelverschwendung
CameraRoland Breitschuh
DirectorValentin Thurn
EditorBirgit Köster
ScreenplayValentin Thurn
Festivals: Berlinale / CULINARY CINEMA | Abu Dhabi Filmfestival | Montreal World Film Festival, Vancouver FF, Cambridge, Seoul, Beirut, Best of INPUT Film Festival/Taiwan, | Santa Barbara International Film Festival/USA
Awards: 1. Preis bei Atlantis Natur- und Umweltfilmfest | EKOFILM, Czech Republic International Filmfestival on the Environment and Natural and Cultural Heritage: Documentary Film Award 2011; | International Festival of Sustainable Development Films – ekotopfilm 2011: GRAND PRIX EKOTOPFILM 2011 – Prize of the Government of the Slovak Republic; | SunChild Film Festival, Armenia. Special mention in the environmental category | Nomination for the International Gold Panda Award 2011, best long documentary, Sichuan TV Festival; | Marele Premiu des Eco Fest Oradea 2011, Romania; | Umwelt Medienpreis 2011 der Deutschen Umwelthilfe in der Kategorie Fernsehen/Film
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