Food dumping: Obscene waste at a time of mass want

By Ollie Bell

The Covid-19 crisis is exposing the inherent weaknesses in the capitalist system. The privatisation of the healthcare system in Ireland and globally means that hospitals are underprepared to deal with this global pandemic. But what is also clear are the contradictions within the system. Images of empty shelves and long queues outside of supermarkets went viral, and seeing these posts could give the illusion that we are dealing with food shortages. But in reality the opposite is true.

Profit motive 

It has been reported that in Wisconsin and Ohio farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of milk into lagoons and manure pits. The Dairy Farmers of America have estimates that farmers in the US are dumping as much as 3.7 million gallons of milk everyday; an Idaho farmer has been reported to have dug ditches to dump one million pounds of onions; one chicken processor has been forced to smash 750,000 eggs every week; and in South Florida tractors are plowing fields of ripe cabbage and beans back into soil. With restaurants and bars closing to stop the spread of Covid-19, many farms have lost most of their buyers, forcing them to destroy massive amounts of food.

On the other side of this, we have food banks in the US that are facing shortages due to Covid-19. Food banks are dealing with workers hit hardest by the mass lay-offs caused by the pandemic. In Pennsylvania, food banks are spending an extra $1 million a week but still turning away families, and one pantry in Alabama is set to go $3.6 million over budget by August. While some farmers are donating some of their surplus to food banks and charities, most won’t, because the logic of the market prevents this.

Climate change

The dumping of food also has environmental implications. Huge swaths of land are cleared to produce the food that is needed everyday to provide for nine million dairy cows in the US. Most dairy comes from big commercial farms that cause destruction to the environment by consuming and releasing large quantities of water, chemicals and pesticides, not to mention methane from the cows themselves. With climate change becoming an increasingly vital issue, the role that capitalist food production plays needs to be addressed.

Capitalism is a system built on contradictions. It encourages the overproduction of food for profit, while leaving millions to starve globally. In order to combat food wastage, we would need to have a system that would look at what people all over the world need and plan ahead accordingly. This would be possible only under a socialist planned economy where major agri-businesses would be brought into public ownership and profit-making eliminated.  

Previous Article

Top Ten Reads for Lockdown

Next Article

Britain Leaked Report Reveals Sabotage by Labour Right

Related Posts
Read More

Bank bailout – Giving away your future

“It's the classic fairytale gone bad. A brave little country was given three wishes: low interest rates, high wages and billions in multinational investment. For a brief moment in time, for the first time in its history, Ireland was wealthy and had the respect of the world. Then it threw it all away. And that’s why they call it Namageddon.” - The Wall Street Journal.

Read More

48hr General Stike in Greece

The Greek trade unions have started their first 48 hour general strike since 1992. The movement of the ‘enraged’ and the activists of the workers’ movement demanded this step, against the vote in the Greek parliament on the second memorandum - a new package of austerity imposed by the troika (EU, IMF and European Central Bank). This vote is planned to take place in various stages over the next days.

Read More

Education cuts: Damaging our children’s future

By Councillor Ruth Coppinger

 PARENTS VOTING on 5 June need to factor in a huge issue that will impact their children’s future but is being largely ignored in the media. When their kids return to school in September, two to three teachers will no longer be there and their school will be thousands of euro poorer. That means bigger classes with less attention for their child and more requests from school principals for parent donations to keep schools running.

Read More

Mortgage Crisis: For write downs, not evictions

"It is an unpalatable fact, in light of the severity of the crisis, that repossessions must be expected to rise significantly." These were the chilling words uttered by the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Matthew Elderfield. He wasn’t speaking about luxury cars that some people may have bought and couldn’t keep up their repayments when their wages were cut or they lost their jobs. He was talking about people’s homes, the roof over their heads, the refuge where they and their families find respite when everything else – income, jobs, their children’s welfare – might be crashing around them due to the economic crisis.