What's eating you?

Each bite we take eats away of the Earth's precious resources

Published: Wednesday 31 July 2002

-- > Food is more than what lies on your plate. It's someone's labour. It's someone's export to meet your off-season demand. It's what keeps the pesticide machinery well-oiled. It's the wish for many.

> Way back in 1970, the US spent about US$6 billion on fast food; in 2000 it spent more than US $110 billion. The US now spends more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars.

> The roughly 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum wage earners in the US.

Power games
US consumes 17 per cent of 238 trillion kilowatt-hours energy spent annually on getting food to the table. Approximately 18 per cent of this energy is consumed for on-farm food production; 82% is spent on food processing, transportation, marketing and preparation

Galloping food
> Like gossip, food travels. It travels far and wide. To produce a glass jar of strawberry yogurt for sale in Stuttgart, south Germany, strawberries are transported from Poland. Corn and wheat flour come from The Netherlands, sugar beet from eastern Germany and the labels and aluminium covers for the jars are made almost 300 km away.

> In the US, 10 litres of orange juice needs one litre of diesel for processing and transport and 220 litres of water for irrigaton and washing the fruit.

> A study shows that to bring one lorry-load of yogurt pots to a south German distribution centre, a lorry must be moved a total of 1,005 km, using some 400 litres of diesel.

Paycheck time
A minimum wager in India’s Mcdonald’s outlet would need to work more than eight hours a day to afford just one burger
Country Price of
Big Mac burger
(in US $)
(in US $
per hour)
Australia 1.58 5.60
China 1.19 0.30
(Sales staff)
Hong Kong 1.30 1.92
India 0.98
(Min. wage)
Malaysia 1.13 0.78
New Zealand 1.72 3.61
Pakistan 3.08 0.22
Philippines 1.27 0.54
South Korea 2.62 1.78
Sri Lanka 2.75 0.46
Thailand 1.26 0.46
(Min. wage)

Source: 1.'How long McDonald cleaners must work to buy a BigMac, Asian Labour Update No 42, January-March 2002, p5
2. http://www.booksense.com/chapters/schlosserfast.jsp
3. www.agen.ufl.edu/~fees/pdfs/eh21400.pdf
4. http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/reports/foodmiles.html

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.