OSLO Feb 19 The United Nations treated
government ministers and officials to a meal of blemished
African fruit and vegetables on Tuesday to highlight how
perfectly edible food is being rejected by European
The five-course meal for 500 delegates at a week-long United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) event in the Kenyan capital
included grilled sweet corn tamales, yellow lentil dal and
mangomisu - a tropical version of the Italian dessert tiramisu.
The food was all reject-grade by the standards of European
buyers, who sometimes cancel orders after produce has been
harvested. The rejected food often rots or is fed to livestock
because farmers produce more than local markets can absorb.
"No economic, environmental or ethical argument can be made
to justify the extent of food waste and loss currently happening
in the world," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment
Programme (UNEP) which hosted the dinner.
"With this dinner, we are demonstrating to retailers,
consumers and policymakers who can push for change that the
astonishing amount of food we throw away is not just edible and
nutritious, but also delicious," he said.
A total of 1.7 tonnes of food was collected, both for the
meal and as a donation to local charities.
Tristram Stuart, a British founder of the Feeding the 5000
campaign group that worked with UNEP, said farmers singled out
supermarkets in Europe as the worst of their buyers abroad.
Fruit and vegetables were often rejected for cosmetic
reasons such as colour or shape. French beans had to be exactly
the right length, for instance, and any that were too long had
to be cut short, with the ends fed to livestock.
"We are demonstrating the colossal scale of gratuitous
waste, even in countries like Kenya where there are millions of
hungry people," he said. "The waste of perfectly edible, 'ugly'
vegetables is endemic in our food production systems."
(Reporting By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent; Editing
by Tom Pfeiffer)