Half of all US food produce is thrown away

Food waste is worldwide problem

Here the focus of food waste is on the USA but I see this still being a problem in other Western countries.

When visiting the U.S. and Europe I often witness how consumers simply buy too much, stuff it in the fridge, use a little and then shamelessly throw away because it is “past date”. Or they prepare the food and throw away many parts that could be used. The excuse is, too old, cheap anyway (it was in promotion!), and “what’s your problem?”
I am shocked because the way I was brought up is “to never waste food”.
However the problem is more serious because before the food really arrives at the consumer, mountains were wasted due to poor storage, the fickle attitude of the big chains, the whole system.
Happily we see a trend where some shops now sell separately the “ugly produce”, or find a channel to unload the unused or “too old” produce (e.g. to charity or recycling).
The issue is also discussed in my book Toxic Capitalism.

So what are YOU doing about it?

See the full article here, dated 13 July 2016, highly recommended:
The Guardian article

Some main lines:

– Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment. Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards.

– Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. By one government tally, about 60m tons of produce worth about $160bn, is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs.

– Scarred vegetables regularly abandoned in the field to save the expense and labor involved in harvest. Or left to rot in a warehouse because of minor blemishes that do not necessarily affect freshness or quality. When added to the retail waste, it takes the amount of food lost close to half of all produce grown, experts say.

– Some supermarket chains and industry groups in the US are pioneering ugly produce sections and actively campaigning to reduce such losses. But a number of producers and distributors claimed that some retailing giants were still using their power to reject produce on the basis of some ideal of perfection, and sometimes because of market conditions.

China sets pace for green energy

The China Daily article: “China sets pace for green energy” gives a better image of what China is doing. Dated 11 July 2016.
China Daily article

See here the main points:

China has cut coal consumption by 1.57 billion metric tons from 2010 to 2015 to reduce carbon emissions by 3.6 billion tons. And it has shown a commitment to green energy by becoming the largest country with renewable power capacity in 2015.

An estimated 147 GW of renewable power capacity was added worldwide in 2015, the largest annual increase ever, the annual Global Status Report on Renewables 2016 said.
Among the global players, China has been especially active. It leads the list of 148 countries covered in the report, with the largest renewable power capacity by 2015, according to the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy.
With the increasing investment on solar, wind and hydropower, China will see a larger growth of nonfossil fuels, “with a high possibility to exceed the set targets of 15% by 2020,” said Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

Nonfossil fuels accounted for 12% of China’s primary energy mix in 2015, growing from 7.4% in 2005, and it’s expected to account for 20% by 2030, said Xie Zhenhua, China’s chief climate negotiator and former deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission.
“In 2015, China saw its GDP hit 67.7 trillion yuan ($10.1 trillion), 148% above 2005, but the carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP has been reduced by 38% compared with 2005; China is committed to reducing carbon intensity 60-65% by 2030, and aims to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions earlier than the deadline of 2030”, Xie said.

Greener Beijing, there is some hope

The number of cars is increasing in China. Figures published in July 2016: In China the total number of cars now 184 million, with 135 million private cars. Driving license total 296 million. Beijing: 5.44 million cars.

Rumors go around of more traffic restrictions in Beijing as well as road fees to enter the center of the city (“congestion fees”). Another much more controversial plan – being carried out – is to simply lower the city population by making life difficult and expensive for migrants. In my opinion, unsustainable as it is chasing away all the people providing services.

China Daily on 3 September 2016 published the following data on Beijing, see:


Some of the figures:
– 2015 population 21.71 million
– 2015 registered vehicles: 5.62 million (notice, as usual, the difference with the figure above!)
– metro lines: 2015 554 Km – 2020 1,000 Km
– evolution of PM2.5 and “good air days”

In July China Daily also published the sources of PM2.5 in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei:


That is in line with my assessment that pollution in Beijing is roughly: one third cars / one third local industry / one third coming from the outside.
Coordination between areas has grown into a major issue in the fight against air pollution, especially in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
Beijing has set an air pollution reduction target for PM2.5 at 60 micrograms per cubic meter by 2017. The city averaged 80.9 micrograms in 2015, suggesting the target will be hard to reach.
See the full article here:
12 July 2016 – Lots of bad air blows in from elsewhere
China Daily article

Beijing now has 68,000 public bicycles, and some new models. The city has also launched an app to provide real-time location data, nearby rental stations, number of available bikes etc. The rental bikes were launched in 2012 and I see more and more on the road.

The darker side of Buddhism

A bit sad to see this extreme brand of Buddhism, an otherwise peaceful teaching. Unfortunately since trhe article came out little or no progress has been made to stem the virulent actions by some, like in Myanmar against some Muslim minorities.
The darker side of Buddhism, by Charles Haviland BBC News, Colombo, 30 May 2015
BBC article

Some excerpts:

The principle of non-violence is central to Buddhist teachings, but in Sri Lanka some Buddhist monks are being accused of stirring up hostility towards other faiths and ethnic minorities. Their hard line is causing increasing concern.

The firebrand strain of Buddhism is not new to Sri Lanka. A key Buddhist revivalist figure of the early 20th Century, Anagarika Dharmapala, was less than complimentary about non-Sinhalese people. He held that the “Aryan Sinhalese” had made the island into Paradise which was then destroyed by Christianity and polytheism. He targeted Muslims saying they had “by Shylockian methods” thrived at the expense of the “sons of the soil”.

Since 2012, the Buddhist Power Force (BBS)has embraced direct action, following the example of other like-minded groups. It raided Muslim-owned slaughter-houses claiming, incorrectly, that they were breaking the law. Members demonstrated outside a law college alleging, again incorrectly, that exam results were being distorted in favor of Muslims.
Moderate Buddhists have also been targeted by hardline ones.

Another country where fierce Buddhism has recently made headlines is Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. A Buddhist faction there, the 969 movement, is known for strident anti-Muslim campaigns that have triggered widespread violence.

See: Myanmar mob burns down mosque, 2 July 2016
BBC article

A mob has burned down a mosque in northern Myanmar in the second attack of its kind in just over a week.
Police are reported to be guarding the village of Hpakant in Kachin state, after failing to stop Buddhist villagers setting the mosque ablaze.
Last week, a group of men destroyed a mosque in central Myanmar in a dispute over its construction.
The latest attack took place on Friday, when a group of villagers stormed the mosque and set it on fire. Reports said they attacked police officers guarding it, and stopped the fire brigade from reaching the site.

Biking in Beijing, the future and now

Recently I had a Q&A session in Beida on the subject, see:

While the city of Beijing has indeed made some progress, like increasing the amount of bikes for rent, coming out with new models, as well as modestly making better biking lanes, a lot remains to be done.
China Daily explained some of the recent trends:
7 September 2016 – Bicycles on a roll again
China Daily article

The point is that a new wave of consumers choses biking as a new fashion statement, buying expensive models. They want to look “cool” while bikes are mostly regarded as for people who really have little or no money. Explains why the number of bikes seems still to go down but the market size of the industry shows a strong growth.
Companies like Natooke (Iness Brunn and her fixed gear bikes) are the nice symptoms: she has attracted a lot of attention. Others are going the bamboo way. Another custom-made shop I I know is making 40,000 RMB bikes, high-tech alloys.

See here NATOOKE:
Touring Wudaoying Hutong in Beijing

And this article:

Here a picture of a bike I saw in Sanlitun, I even had to look it up and yes, a Land Rover bike does exist! Could not figure out the model, they are on sale online. Not clear if this one has “assisted pedal power”.


But even “e-scooters”, meaning here the real big ones, are also finding a new niche through their superior power and technology: a bit like the e-version of a Harley Davidson. EVOKE is such a company. Their bike was displayed in our Rotaract Gala evening a few months ago, see:
“Rotaract Gala Event: see what you missed!”
The EVOKE bike:

The China Daily article:
7 September 2016 – Putting power and pizazz into bikes
China Daily article

Many call for increased use of bikes. Much in line with what I preach is in this China Daily article:
5 July 2016 – A short ride to clean, better life and future
China Daily article

It says:
Beijing is spending about 30 million yuan this year to improve the capital’s sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and keep them free of motor vehicles.
The Beijing municipal government is trying to ease traffic jams by imposing congestion fees on drivers. Since many are opposed to the move, the Beijing authorities should encourage more people to ride bicycles, because it is the best way to reduce the use of cars.
Urban planners in cities like Beijing want to emulate other cities that have admirable biking policies. A survey of the top 20 cities with the best bike systems shows Europe as the leader, with Japan as the runner-up. Beijing and other North China cities didn’t fare well in the rankings, even though China is known as a bicycle-friendly country.
But cities in North China cannot use cold weather as an excuse to turn their back on bikes, because 30 percent of urban Scandinavians ride to work through winter.

And as for me, hot or cold, sun or rain, I am on my bike in Beijing


Tolerance, the light side

Some humor is welcome in the often acid comments on tolerance, religion, racism… Sadly enough, some people are also offended by humor…
See here one I like:


I am truly perplexed that so many of my friends are against another mosque being built in London.
I think it should be the goal of every Englishman to be tolerant.
Thus the Mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance.
That is why I also propose that two nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque, thereby promoting tolerance from within the mosque.
We could call one of the clubs, which would be gay, “The Turban Cowboy “, and the other a topless bar called “You Mecca Me Hot.”
Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork, and adjacent to that an open-pit barbeque pork restaurant, called “Iraq o’ Ribs.”
Across the street there could be a lingerie store called “Victoria Keeps Nothing Secret “, with sexy mannequins in the window modeling the goods.
Next door to the lingerie shop there would be room for an adult sex toy shop, “Koranal Knowledge”, its name in flashing neon lights, and on the other side a liquor store called “Morehammered.”
All of this would encourage the Muslims to demonstrate the tolerance they demand of us, so the mosque problem would be solved.

Extremists target world’s priceless treasures

Destroying history, the extremists not only kill innocent people
“Muslim extremists target world’s priceless treasures”
By The Muslim Post (edited) (was first posted in China Daily)

Muslim extremists target world’s priceless treasures

20 August 2016
From Mali to Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, extremist fighters have regularly turned their sights on the priceless vestiges of peoples’ cultural heritage – for being un-Islamic.
The following are some examples of world cultural heritage destroyed or damaged during recent conflicts. More damage done in other locations,

The fabled desert city of Timbuktu, named as the “City of 333 saints” and listed by UNESCO, was for months attacked by extremists bent on imposing a brutal version of Islamic law.
In June 2012, al-Qaida-linked militants destroyed 14 of the northern city’s mausoleums, important buildings that date back to Timbuktu’s golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries as an economic, intellectual and spiritual hub.

More than 900 monuments or archaeological sites have been looted, damaged or destroyed in Syria, where a devastating war has raged since 2011. In September 2015, Islamic State fighters destroyed two of the most important temples in the UNESCO-listed Syrian city of Palmyra as they pressed a campaign to wipe out some of the Middle East’s most important heritage sites.

The IS group has carried out a campaign of “cultural cleansing”, razing part of ancient Mesopotamia’s relics and looting others to sell valued artifactsfacts on the black market.
In a video released by the IS group on Feb 26, 2015, militants were shown using sledgehammers to smash pre-Islamic treasures in the museum in the country’s second city Mosul, sparking global outrage.
Thousands of books and rare manuscripts were also burned in February in Mosul’s library.

Several mausoleums have been destroyed by Islamic extremists since the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gadhafi in 2011.
In August 2012, Islamist hardliners bulldozed part of the mausoleum of Al-Shaab Al-Dahman, close to the center of the Libyan capital.

In March 2001, Taliban leader Mullah Omar ordered the destruction of two 1,500-year-old Buddha statues in the eastern town of Bamiyan, because they were judged to be anti-Islamic.
Hundreds of members of the Taliban from across the country spent more than three weeks demolishing the gigantic statues carved into the side of a cliff.
In 2003 the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley were put on UNESCO’S world heritage list.

2 weeks 8 attacks 247 victims

All in the name of some extremist religion. Where is love and peace?

While extremist attacks in the Western world are put all over the media and people find it “horrible”, many others in some far-away country are killed, with few thinking too much about it. The articles here tried to paint a picture of some whose life was taken away for no reason.

The Human Toll of Terror
26 July 2016
NYT article

And see also:
NYT article


The pace and scope of the killing are dizzying. Some 300 members of families blown apart by bombs as they celebrated the end of Ramadan in Baghdad. Forty-nine dead at the Istanbul airport, 40 more in Afghanistan. Nine Italians, seven Japanese, three students at American universities and one local woman brutalized in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The bodies piled up on a bus in Somalia, at a mosque and video club in Cameroon, at a shrine in Saudi Arabia.
All that carnage was in a single week — a single week of summer in what feels like an endless stream of terror attacks. Orlando and Beirut. Paris and Nice and St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Germany and Japan and Egypt. Each bomb or bullet tearing holes in homes and communities.

Also incredible this picture of the “World’s biggest cemetery”: Najaf, Iraq, with more than five million people buried there, the majority being Shia Muslims, many recent victims of IS. Again mostly Muslims killing Muslims.

Now who are the real “infidels”?

No beef vs no pork

Some cannot eat beef. Others love beef (most countries). Some cannot eat pork, some love pork (count China and Belgium in). Now, based on what? Of course no mutual respect nor tolerance.

Indian mob kills man over beef eating rumor
By Saif Khalid

A man has been dragged out of his house and beaten to death by a mob near New Delhi over rumors that his family killed and ate a cow, the victim’s brother has told Al Jazeera.
Mohammed Akhlaq, 52, a resident of Bisara village in Gautam Budh Nagar, about 40km from the Indian capital, was attacked on Monday night.

He died of his injuries early on Tuesday while his 22-year-old son Mohammed Danish was admitted to a nearby hospital in a critical condition.
“My brother threw goat’s skin in the garbage dump. But some people circulated a rumour that a cow was slaughtered and an announcement was made from the local temple,” Mohammed Saifi, the victim’s brother, said.
“Soon a mob of about 1,000 people, armed with lathis [batons] and swords, gathered and attacked the house of my brother.
“They did not even spare my 82-year-old mother Asgari Begum, who has suffered injuries, along with Akhlaq’s wife and daughter, Sajida Saifi,” he said.

Since that news came out, the situation remains totally unclear. The “meat” was first tested and came out as not being beef. Then another test put doubts. And more confusing reports, showing an incompetent police force.

Hindu Priest Is Hacked to Death

Mutual respect and tolerance?

1 July 2016

Attackers wielding machetes killed a Hindu priest in Bangladesh on Friday morning, the fourth Hindu to be targeted during the past month in more than three years of similar killings by Islamist militants in this Muslim-majority country.

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the death in a report by the group’s Amaq News Agency, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online.
More than 40 people have been killed in Bangladesh in a series of attacks that began in early 2013. The attacks initially targeted bloggers but then expanded to include foreigners, gay activists and members of religious minorities. In an effort to forestall further violence, the government announced a crackdown in early June and has arrested more than 11,000 people, 194 of them said to be linked to militant networks.

Kajal Debnath, a presidium member of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, said that Hindus, particularly in rural villages, are terrified and call his organization daily wondering if they will survive the latest outbreak of killings. They have been victims of oppression in Bangladesh for decades and do not know why they have suddenly become the “prime target of a series of similar killings,” he said.

The killing was similar to one last month of Anando Gopal Ganguly, 68, a Hindu priest, Mr. Kanjilal said. Mr. Ganguly was riding a bicycle in an isolated rural area not far from his home when three men on a motorcycle came up from behind to attack him.
The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the death of Mr. Ganguly in a report by Amaq, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.