During this morning’s Farming Today programme on BBC Radio 4 I heard an interesting but slightly shocking interview with a carrot farmer. He was being interviewed about his harvest. The journalist remarked that his machine seemed to have left a lot of carrots in the ground. The farmer explained that he had used a machine that pulled the carrots up out of the ground by their heads. If the heads were weak, then they snapped off, hence all of those carrots still in the ground. If too many of the carrot heads snapped off then he used a different machine, that dug under the roots and lifted them out. But the head-pulling machine delivered cleaner carrots and was therefore preferable. Couldn’t the machine be followed up by labourers who would pick up the remaining carrots, asked the journalist? In an ideal world, yes, replied the farmer, but the economics are just not right. Each vegetable’s value can be measured in pennies; it just isn’t worth it. In conclusion, therefore, between one and two per cent of his carrot crop gets ploughed back into the earth to contribute to the biomass, so the rejected carrots aren’t entirely wasted. All the same! An awful lot of attention has been paid to food waste in institutions and organisations. Strict laws governing the re-use of food have led to a new approach to planning so as to minimise waste. Meanwhile… I suppose it could be contrarily argued that sophisticated mechanisation has led to very high harvests. But as readers of this blog will know, I have often wondered about the quantitites of potatoes left in the soil out at Bertem after each harvest. To old-fashioned me it just seems like a waste. As I understand it, the European Commission is currently working on a Communication on the “Sustainability of food systems”, which is expected to be published at the beginning of 2014. As part of the “Roadmap to a resource–efficient Europe”, the Communication will, inter alia, consider how to limit food waste across the food supply chain, as well as how to reduce the environmental impact of food production and consumption. So watch this space!