I’m fed up of food waste – what’s wrong with a wonky vegetable?

By the time vegetables have been cooked, it makes no difference what shape or size they were originally: Katie Barraclough/The Felix Project

It is generally agreed amongst the gardeners I know that the vegetables and fruit that they grow themselves taste infinitely better than anything they can buy in a supermarket, even though the carrots, leek, parsnips and apples are not all without blemish and of a standard size or shape.

I am quite sure that none of us routinely discards 16 per cent of what we produce (Wasted farm food “could feed Manchester for a year”).

Certainly the soup that I make with my own parsnips, almost as soon as I have dug them up, is delicious even though the roots were not all virtually identical when they came out of the ground, and by the time the carrots and leeks have been cooked, it makes no difference what shape or size they were originally.

Gardeners are only likely to be critical of their own produce when they are carefully selecting the runner beans, the onions, the pods of peas or the tomatoes that they are hoping will win them prizes in the local show.

Perhaps the only way to overcome the problem of waste, that results from the supermarket stranglehold on what farmers are required to grow, is to ensure that all children are at some stage given the opportunity in school to grow some vegetables to eat themselves. This has proved to be very popular where it has been tried, and the youngsters might grow up appreciating that taste is much more important than the size and shape of the fruit and vegetables that they eat.

Elizabeth Wilkins

I am dismayed to see the amount of food being wasted in the UK. Here in Cyprus the shops mainly close at 1pm on Saturdays for the weekend. At our local vegetable shop any veg remaining is bagged up and sold for very little money. Indeed it also sells vegetables from people who have grown too much for their own consumption.

Saturday is therefore a very busy day, more like a market than a shop. In our village, surplus is often given away. We give our lemons. Another good point to food shopping here is that we get vegetables when they are in season, so this week it is cauliflower, red cabbage and broccoli. We don’t need “veg boxes” – we get our vegetables from our local shops. We have a healthy diet which we enjoy immensely.

Julia Lewis
Nicosia, Cyprus

Every path is useful to society

A quick refresher of Dickens’s satire on utilitarian approaches to education (see an old GCSE set text, Hard Times) would expose part of the silliness of ranking academic work in terms of “usefulness to society”.

But even on its own terms, one might wonder how any scientific text book or user manual could be produced without advanced literary skills, not to mention the work of graphic designers and photographers, and, if it is to be sold abroad, the work of translators, and if the publication is to be sold at all, the contribution of marketing and publicity specialists. And so on and on.

Everyone’s education, to whatever level is appropriate, is a gift as much to society as to ourselves because we are interdependent. Those who do actually benefit from a university education financially will, in the course of time, repay their debt to society through income tax, so there was no need to burden individual students of any discipline with fees, with the enormously expensive raft of new administration and the personal misery and stress and drop-out rate that has entailed.

Terence Handley MacMath

We should be aiming to work for fewer years, not more!

There has been much debate recently about living longer and working till you drop. The whole context of extending the retirement age is ridiculous, given that 50 per cent of jobs are going to disappear in the next couple of decades. Why should anyone contemplate people working into their 70s and beyond?

The ongoing automation revolution is bringing about dramatic developments across the world, like the introduction of a universal basic income – this is in order to sustain capitalism.

How does making people work longer fit into this scenario – in reality, the opposite should be the case, people having more leisure time and retiring early.

The ageing conversation is also always conducted within the comfy confines of white collar work. What construction worker wants to be working at 70?

The idea that everyone is living longer and this is in some way an irreversible trend is absurd. Since the austerity agenda was adopted by the Tories in 2010, the extension of life expectancy has halted and in many areas of the country is in reverse.

There is also the increasingly sedentary nature of so much work added to the obesity epidemic across society – how when these things are taken into account can the assertion that everyone will live longer moving forward be sustained?

The conversation should be about how everyone can live together better in community, not for how long.

Paul Donovan
Address supplied

The easy way to protect our pensions

The solution to the scandalous pension shortfalls, as in the case of Carillion and many other companies, is remarkably simple – a law that forbids shareholder dividends being paid till the employees’ pensions are fully funded.

Such a law would be unquestionably fair and emphasise the employers’ responsibilities to the workforce producing the profits.

Edward Sturmer
Address supplied

No place for discrimination

Is it not time that the Church of England got rid of clergy who continue to discriminate against LGBT+ people? These men belong to a bygone age and ought to be pensioned off so that we can all get on with our lives.

Tony Porter
London W9

Response to your article

Andrew MacLeod’s article published on 13 February (“The scale of sex abuse at the hands of UN workers could be huge”) suggests there are some inside the UN who think the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations provides immunity in respect of sexual abuse.

Let me say plainly: there is no immunity from prosecution for UN staff who commit sexual abuse.

The UN itself cannot prosecute people for criminal acts; we rely on sovereign countries to do so. As such, we refer cases involving allegations of sexual abuse to the state of nationality of those accused, and we follow up regularly.

States have imposed prison sentences on their nationals for sexual abuse against children while serving in a UN operation.

Sexual exploitation and abuse are not reflective of the conduct of the majority of the dedicated women and men who serve in the United Nations. The Secretary-General is determined to tackle this scourge aggressively and has laid out a comprehensive strategy to transform the way in which we seek to prevent and respond to it.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General

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