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Could Michael Gove report for remedial education in sums please?

Summary:
We have a summit, a government plan, thousands are to be mobilised to counter one of the terrors of our age:Michael Gove has urged chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers to help the Government end the “moral, economic, and environmental scandal” of throwing away food.The Environment Secretary will host a summit next week when he will call on 300 organisations and prominent individuals to pledge to significantly reduce their food waste.The pledge includes a commitment to checking the fridge before going shopping and always using a shopping list to better plan meals.Every year approximately 100,000 tonnes of “perfectly edible” food - roughly 250 million meals - is thrown away and Mr Gove is urging immediate action to address the situation.250 million does sound like a lot. But now do some basic

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We have a summit, a government plan, thousands are to be mobilised to counter one of the terrors of our age:

Michael Gove has urged chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers to help the Government end the “moral, economic, and environmental scandal” of throwing away food.

The Environment Secretary will host a summit next week when he will call on 300 organisations and prominent individuals to pledge to significantly reduce their food waste.

The pledge includes a commitment to checking the fridge before going shopping and always using a shopping list to better plan meals.

Every year approximately 100,000 tonnes of “perfectly edible” food - roughly 250 million meals - is thrown away and Mr Gove is urging immediate action to address the situation.

250 million does sound like a lot. But now do some basic sums. Even try to think a little bit. If we start at pixel time for this piece, 7.01 AM, that will take us through to about 9 am tomorrow morning. It’s around and about 4 meals per head of population that is, we get from before breakfast one day to after it the next.

For we’ve 65 million in the country, we eat 3 meals a day - we’ve heard of this food insecurity and don’t believe it for a moment - and there are 365 days in that normal year. That’s 71,175,000,000 meals a year to keep Britain off the Ex-Lax. The worry here is that there’s a 0.3% inefficiency in the system.

We would laud that as a marker of the efficiency of an unplanned and free market system. The application of that modern technology we call the supermarket with the associated logistics chain. Plus those fridges and freezers that adorn every home. Do note that the FAO, the food and agriculture bit of the UN, tells us that in poor countries, those without those hangars and temples to capitalist gluttony, lose some 50% of all food produced between field and fork.

On the numbers presented to us this is a problem we’ve already solved. For, seriously, who believes that any government scheme ever will operate with a mere 0.3% wastage rate? We are distinctly unconvinced that government has unlimited capacity and we’d thus suggest that this particular point be declared dealt with and that limited attention and competence be directed at more pressing concerns.

When for example, is someone going to solve Simon Cowell?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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