Potato harvesterWe watched the potato harvesters at work out at Bertem today. A huge, sophisticated machine pulled, cleaned and graded the potatoes before depositing them in a waiting truck. The owner of the fields (more an entrepreneur than a farmer) explained that the lorries took their loads off to a nearby processing plant where, within the day still, they would have been washed, peeled, chipped, packed and frozen. Because the potatoes were grown to be transformed into chips, the machine rejected anything beneath a certain length. These were ejected onto the soil, where they would be ploughed back into the earth and recycled as biomass. We asked if we could pick up some of the potatoes. Of course, the farmer replied. One of his drivers produced a plastic bag for us and we picked about six kilos’ worth of perfectly consumable potatoes – indeed, they were cooked and eaten within days. Not for the first time, I wondered about the way we order our lives. Why could the sophisticated machine not send the reject potatoes into another container, so that they could be sold (or, better, given away) and hence consumed, rather than effectively being thrown away?