As the cost of living grows ever higher, and more families are choosing between eating and paying bills—with some parents skipping meals so their children can eat—we continue to produce an over-abundance. We produce such an over-abundance of food that no one should be without food.
Roughly a third of the food we produce is wasted. From when it’s harvested to when retailers throw it out, food is wasted throughout the whole process. The food that is wasted by going past its “best before” date in retail, or wrong orders in food service, is thrown out. This food could easily have been used to feed those who are homeless or going without food to pay other bills.
Even before the food reaches the shelves it gets thrown out for looking “wonky.” A study has shown that more than a third of the fruit and vegetables grown in Europe is wasted because they look a bit wonky. It shows that an estimated 50 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetable are thrown away each year because they don’t meet supermarket and consumer standards.
Globally, up to half of all fruit and vegetable produce, 20 per cent of meat and dairy foods and 30 per cent of fish produce is wasted each year. This amount of food waste throughout the life cycle of food, from field to bin, accounts for between 8 and 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Capitalism puts profits before the environment and hungry families.
With the increases in the cost of living, and as the housing crisis worsens, the Government is ensuring that landlords and business-owners can line their pockets. We have the resources to ensure that every citizen is fed and housed, but the Government simply chooses not to.
In April this year alone 10,049 people required emergency accommodation, with 4,190 of these under the age of twenty-four. A report in February last year showed that 2,326 children were homeless. With the cost of living at an estimated €3,232 per month, and public land being sold to vulture funds and developers, the future for Ireland’s youth in a capitalist country is looking bleak. The Government is not running the country in the interests of the people but in the interests of ever-increasing profits.
Michael Parenti, a historian who has talked at length about socialist countries in many lectures and debates, has talked about the differences between the German Democratic Republic and West Germany. The people in the GDR, when seeing the supermarkets of West Germany, were amazed at the selection of goods; however, they were horrified at the people knocking on their doors begging for money to buy food.
While millions were starving in capitalist countries, bread was subsidised in the Soviet Union, public transport was affordable for everyone, and all people were housed. The people’s needs were being met.
The only way to bring the people of Ireland out of poverty-stricken conditions, such as living on the streets and going without food, is to bring about the vision of Ireland that the revolutionaries of 1916 had: a 32-county socialist republic. As Comrade Doran pointed out last month, “when faced with an emergency they adopted socialist models to solve the crisis”—but, as has been shown over the years, adopting the models isn’t enough. An entire system change is what Ireland needs.
The Democratic Programme of 1919 said, “It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter.”
The Government of Ireland has failed in its first duty. Ireland has a housing crisis, a homelessness crisis, and a cost-of-living crisis. All of these have capitalism in common. To fix them we need socialism.