TIR Library Newsletter: TIR presents its reading tip, "Die Essensvernichter" (in English: "The Food Destroyers")
With this year's fourth newsletter edition, the library of the Stiftung für das Tier im Recht (Foundation for the Animal in the Law; TIR) once again presents selected and current new acquisitions. Books, articles, and films on animal-related topics will be explored in more detail. The special reading tip is about food waste, the resulting environmental degradation, and loss of biodiversity.
November 4, 2021
Food that is produced but not consumed generates unnecessary CO2 emissions, causes biodiversity loss and uses up land and water. Over a third of the world's food production is wasted, either during harvesting or distribution. This is a crucial amount that could be used to fight global hunger.
As livestock production has increased tremendously and global meat consumption has more than doubled in the past 20 years, the impact of livestock farming on global warming is drastic. Livestock (i.e. animals that are exploited by humans) rearing is one of the main sources of emissions. But also synthetic fertilizers, which are used extensively in the cultivation of arable land, are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and lead to water contamination and, in turn, to biodiversity loss.
The clearing of forests for livestock grazing or for the cultivation of soy and corn to produce farm animal feed results in further emissions and massive habitat loss for many animal species. Transportation of livestock by land and water releases additional pollutants, not to mention the largely unacceptable transport conditions and the suffering inflicted on the animals during transport. Animal products are therefore among the biggest environmental polluters and significantly contribute to global warming.
Vegetables and fruits should be purchased regionally and seasonally. Transportation by sea or air is a major source of emissions. Also, fruits and vegetables grown in unsuitable locations require a lot of energy and water, all the while they are expected to meet certain standards in terms of shape and size. While there are certain legal requirements in place, private enterprises largely dictate what standards the products must meet. As a result, a significant share of crops are sorted out and either sold at a fraction of the normal price, used to produce biogas, or simply discarded. Organizations like Gebana are working on a national and international level to promote a direct, fair, and ecological trading system that supports local producers and embraces fruits and vegetables in all their shapes and colors.
The global fishing industry is another driver of food waste, with more than 80 percent of the catch being thrown back into the sea as unwanted bycatch. In many cases, the animals suffer greatly before succumbing to their injuries. But even animals belonging to the "target species" that are ultimately processed into food often suffer from severe internal injuries, like ruptured bladders due to ambient pressure reduction during the forced ascent to the water surface. Many are crushed to death or die a slow and painful death by asphyxiation. There are no "humane" killing methods in industrial fishing. eading space and workstations. Recent additions to the TIR library are featured in the TIR library newsletter.
The latest report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), "The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2020", shows that 34 percent of the estimated 450 remaining fish
stocks are now overfished. The exploitation of about sixty percent of
stocks can be described as being barely sustainable, while only six
percent of the world's marine fish stocks have not yet been exploited
beyond their safe biological limit.
The authors of the book presented here, "Die Essensvernichter", describe the reasons for today's enormous waste of food and present alternatives for improving this unsustainable situation. The waste of valuable food, which goes hand in hand with immense environmental pollution, could be drastically reduced. Politicians could act, for example, by making it a legal requirement for food manufacturers and retailers to donate surplus food. Even small actions and adjustments in individual behavior could make a big difference: Restraint in buying consumer goods, good planning and creative cooking ideas including the processing of leftovers and natural preservation to extend the life of food, as well as "rescuing" vegetables by buying surplus products, for example, directly from the farm, or vegetables that do not meet the aesthetic standards and therefore cannot be sold through the usual channels; personal efforts can indeed help prevent this wastage.
Consumers can also help to reduce environmental degradation by significantly reducing their consumption of animal products. This can curb large quantities of CO2 and methane emissions, water use, and biodiversity loss. The growing global demand for meat and dairy products is also associated with health risks and poverty (see Swissveg and the Coller Animal Law Forum for more information), not to mention the considerable animal suffering caused by the breeding, rearing, transport and slaughter of animals. Destroying food of animal origin seems particularly despicable in this context.
"Die Essensvernichter" ("The Food Destroyers") was published in 2011 and the 2nd edition in 2012, based on the film documentary "Taste the Waste" (2011) and the prequel to the feature film "Frisch auf den Müll" (2010). The film greatly contributed to raising awareness on this issue in Europe. Numerous chefs and retail companies came forward to discuss the challenge of avoiding food waste, and other concerned citizens asked for tips on how best to scavenge supermarket containers for edible food. Politicians also finally began addressing the issue. Food waste brings with it a range of serious problems and urgent help is needed from across the board to bring about change.
Stefan Kreutzberger is a freelance
journalist, author, and media consultant specializing in environmental
and consumer issues as well as international development cooperation.
Valentin Thurn has made several TV documentaries and reports as a
This book " The Food Destroyers" by Stefan Kreutzberger and Valentin Thurn is available in stores and can also be viewed upon prior notice during opening hours at the TIR library, which offers reading space and workstations. Recent additions to the TIR library are featured in the TIR library newsletter.
- Book "Die Essensvernichter" ("The Food Destroyers") by Kreutzberger Stefan and Thurn Valentin
- Recommended reading: "Die Erde rechnet ab" by Hutter Claus-Peter
- Recommended reading: "Die Kuh ist kein Klima-Killer! - Wie die Agrarindustrie die Erde verwüstet und was wir dagegen tun können" by Idel Anita
- Article: "Welternährung und Tierhaltung" by Idel Anita
- Article: "Gutes Essen für alle! - Grundlagen einer antispeziesistischen Landwirtschaft" by Schwerdtner Ulrike
- Recommended film: "Taste the Waste" by Thurn Valentin
- Website Food Waste Schweiz
- Website gebana.com
- Recent additions to the TIR library: TIR library newsletter