What a horrible statistic

An estimated 20 per cent of the British harvest is thrown away to comply with EU regulations.

Yes, I know the rules on weirdly shaped veggies were relaxed a few years bak. But that\’s an horrific number. And it stems from the way we allowed some anally retentive OCD types to gain power in the bureaucracy who were then able to foist their compusions upon the rest of us.

Apparently they\’re frit of curved cucumbers and straight bananas and so they must be made illegal.

At which point we\’re throwing away 20% of our harvest. If we didn\’t have to do that either we could be importing less food or moving the other way, farming 20% less land. More wildlife, less fossil fuels used.

The collecive costs to us of this are enormous. And all because some Belgian law scribbler was frightened by ugly vegetables under the bed when a child.

12 thoughts on “What a horrible statistic”

  1. Surely the number we need to know is not the absolute amount of food thrown away now, rather the difference between the amount of food thrown away now and the amount of food that would be thrown away under a British regulatory system.

    Doubtless some of that food is thrown away not because it’s ugly but because it’s rotten, or because it’s pesticide-ridden. And it’s a good thing to have some kind of standards about rotten or polluted food, no?

  2. [i]”For example, an apple that may not have enough red on one side, or too much green on the other. These apples do get used in things like apple juice, but obviously at a much lower [price]. Why should an apple that has not enough red or green not be acceptable when it tastes exactly the same?” [/i]

    Value is in the eye of the consumer?

    Or are we allowed to ignore basic economics for a cheap opportunity to bash the EU?

  3. > An estimated 20 per cent of the British harvest is thrown away… Apparently they’re frit of … straight bananas

    I don’t think the wastage from a loss of 20% of the British banana harvest will be too severe.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    The question to ask is if it goes to landfill because they compounded their stupidity by prohibiting the feeding of such food to pigs.

  5. It’s an outrageous slander on the good name of the EU to suggest that it’s made straight bananas illegal. Commission Regulation (EC) No 2257/94 specifies among other things that bananas sold as unripened, green bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers”. Abnormal curvature is not defined, but straight bananas have never been deemed to be abnormal under the regulation.

    The point of this sort of regulation is to prevent perfidious farmers (foreign ones, obviously) claiming subsidies for substandard produce. I’d have thought the Telegraph would be in favour of that.

  6. Isn’t it about reducing subsidies by declaring 20% of the crop sub-standard and therefore non-qualifying?

    So this is another example of the evil of the Common Agricultural Policy.

  7. Bananas – I thought the regulation was all to do with protecting the West Indies bananas against all other bananas. Other bananas can be smaller, straighter, bendier, different coloured – but EU decides that we only want yellow curved ones.

    @JamesV – The value is in the eye of the beholder/consumer, but it shouldn’t be set by the EU. It should be defined by the individual shop or chain of shops finding out what customers buy most and then deciding if it is worthwhile stocking only the “correct” type.

  8. @SadButMadLad,

    Presumably non-perfect apples are worth less because people are prepared to pay less for them. If they were banned by the EU, they would be worth nothing – in fact they would have negative value because of the disposal cost.

    So the “supermarkets only sell perfect fruit” thing appears to have nothing to do with supposed EU bans on ugly fruit and everything to do with customers placing a lower value on ugly fruit than pretty fruit.

    This is no different to the “supermarkets only sell choice cuts of beef” thing – the rest of it ends up in frozen lasagne etc ( as the apples in apple juice). only because people don’t want to buy it. At least not at Sainsbury.

  9. Certainly would go with most of the comments above.
    The large French supermarket chain I frequented sold some of the most convoluted cucumbers I’ve ever seen. Advanced exercises in vegetable topology. And delicious. Ditto a lot of the other produce. The emphasis was much less on the looks than on the culinary value. So it’s not the EU or the supermarkets.
    My suspicion is that there’s two things happening here. One is the abysmal hopelessness of the British consumer. They simply know damn all about food. (Can’t help wondering if the increasing numbers of men participating in the shopping makes it worse. They’re so profoundly ignorant they presume everything is supposed to resemble the stylised illustrations on packaging.) . The article mentions the absence of demand for kidneys. I can’t think of anyone UK side I know who eats offal. Can remember a delicate flower who fled the kitchen, pale of face, when confronted by the simple process of dressing lambs hearts.
    The other reason is the tendency of the Brits to gold plate regulations. We’ve had people prosecuted for selling produce in pounds rather than metric, haven’t we? I bought a shed in France whose dimensions were advertised in feet – pieds. Didn’t seem to be a problem to anyone. Like JamesV says there’s a purpose to regulations. It’s when you forget the purpose & just enforce the letter for the sake of it that this happens.

  10. Strange, the Telegraph used to use the same “made up” statistic before the EU chnaged its rules – e.g.:



    Both of which state “An estimated 20 per cent of the British harvest is thrown away to comply with the EU regulations, rules which have been calculated to add as much as 40 per cent to the price of some vegetables, such as carrots.” as does today’s report.

  11. One of my favourite radio moments was when the bendy banana stories first started to make the news. 15 years ago?

    The journalists mobbed the EU agriculture commissioner, an Irishman, who robustly denied it all, “a tabloid invention, of course we wouldn’t have rules on banana curviness, that would be stupid..”

    At which point someone (I think from the Sun) pushed a copy of the banana curvature regulation into his hand.

    The only time I’ve come close to feeling sorry for an EU Commissioner.

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