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By Jenny Indian, Beechworth Urban Landcare and Sustainability

We recently extracted our first honey and for two absolute rookies it was all very exciting.  Seemingly attached to everything by fine threads we spun and dripped and eventually captured many jars of golden produce – and all with great porridge potential.

In decanting some into smaller jars I was struck by just how very careful I was being to capture every single droplet…it seemed incredibly precious and my handling of it felt like something of a privilege.  No doubt, seasoned beekeepers wouldn’t feel quite so in awe of the produce of their work but the energy and extraordinary efforts of the bees to create this wonderful stuff remains remarkable.

honey bees

It got me thinking about waste…our individual concept of waste and what that results from.  And I began reflecting on why some of us are more or less wasteful than others – not high philosophical ponderings and touched on by many before but nevertheless worth reflecting upon.

Many years ago I visited an elderly Greek woman who lived in Edinburgh.  She had married a Scot and so moved from Greece but not before she and her family almost starved immediately after the second world war and were then severely effected by the political turmoil that Greece experienced at that time.  In her ‘fridge she had many small bowls with tiny amounts of leftovers… little snatches of food, kept carefully and with reverence for later.  I can only assume that this comes from knowing hunger and from not knowing if or when that hunger will become starvation.

When you have grown something from seed, cursed the many insects that want to devour it before you get the chance, watered and nurtured it to maturity you really do respect it.  You are all too familiar with the time and effort gone into producing the dish of food which now sits before you on the table.  And so you are less inclined to eat some of it and throw the rest out.

Is it as basic as this?  Is there a very simple relationship between your potential to waste and the amount of time and effort you have spent producing that food?

And so, to extend that thinking, can we hope that the more people who garden and grow their own food, the greater the capacity to appreciate that produce and the less possibility to waste…?

I don’t know, but those bees really got me thinking.