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Feed the world or feed the birds?

I'm just wondering if anyone else is starting to feel like feeding wheat and sunflower seeds to the birds is starting to feel a bit frivolous in light of the current situation? I've already cut right back on bird feeding just due to the time of year but I'm really not sure what to do in the run-up to winter. Does it seem like paying a premium for bird food is taking food away from starving humans who can't afford the higher costs?
I should caveat this by saying that wild forage is pretty plentiful in this area during the warmer months so birds won't struggle for food unless the weather is especially rainy. The winter though will be a different matter. Energy price rises will be eating into the bird food budget but our climate locally can be hard for birds compared to other parts of the country. Maybe an early focus on growing more wild food in the garden and providing more sheltered roosting spaces is needed, as well as thinking about more efficient ways of feeding that causes less wastage and less food being lost to pigeons and rats etc.
Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,320
    The sunflower hearts that we buy (in big bags) state clearly that they are not for human consumption.  Ditto the peanuts. So I don’t think that you need worry that you are depriving humanity of a source of food, unless humans get so desperate that they are willing to eat food that is in some way unfit for them.

    Our local petshop can no longer supply sunflower hearts. They can’t get them from their wholesaler.

    One image of food poverty that sticks in my mind is of a street scene in Mumbai in the 1980s. We were travelling on a budget of $10 a day (there was a book about how to do it) and staying in the very cheapest, most death trappish sort of places.

    We hauled up in Mumbai and found a 1930s art deco hotel facing onto the promenade. We asked for their cheapest room. They didn’t believe us but finally gave in and put is in a tiny side room with a view of an alley and a sliver of a view of the prom. There were people living all their lives in that alley. I mean all their lives. No roof over their head. Absolutely no privacy. Men and women lying on broken paving stones with nothing else. Nothing.

    A peep over onto the prom showed rich young people in beautiful clothes, out for the day, buying bird seed off street vendors (who probably lived in the alley) and throwing it for the crows and pigeons to fly down to eat.

    We couldn’t take India. It was in a class of its own.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,931
    Not fit for human consumption can mean a lot of things but also doesn't stop it being fit for livestock feed and driving prices up for farmers in that respect. Poor quality wheat has regularly been used to bulk out some bird food mixes but probably isn't as cheap now to justify that. That wheat is often uneaten by most birds and what attracts the pests if it doesn't get thrown in the bin first.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • B3B3 Posts: 26,531
    What makes the seeds and peanuts unfit for human consumption?
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,569
    I remember being dropped off outside a 5 star hotel in Dehli and seeing a family of 5, including a naked toddler, gather up rubbish to burn on the pavement to keep warm. the had one sheet of cardboard " wrapped " round them.
    It went down to about 3C that night.
  • Slow-wormSlow-worm Posts: 1,576
    I'd rather birds were fed and healthy. We have much more choice and opportunity for food. 
    Cattle don't need oils and seeds.
    I don't think that's taking food from other people's mouths, we have plenty to feed everyone on the planet, but resources are hoarded, burned and wasted by those with no conscience. 
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,931
    B3 said:
    What makes the seeds and peanuts unfit for human consumption?
    Peanuts are a special case as they need screening for toxins but mostly it's just down to the way the seeds are handled and stored.
    It's all very well saying that we should keep wild birds healthy but billions of chickens need feeding every day and the food has to come from somewhere. Keeping British birds fed now is likely to have greater impacts on rainforests and natural habitats elsewhere.

    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London Posts: 709
    edited May 2022
    B3 said:
    What makes the seeds and peanuts unfit for human consumption?
    someone better informed will correct me I hope if I am mis-speaking, but my understanding is that the quality control hoops to be jumped through for human food are meaningfully higher. Plenty of stuff that is harmless to/good for birds which is poisonous to humans ( i'm thinking of random berries here) , so my suspicion is that there is risk of environmental contaminants being present in the seed. Plenty of ( non organic) seeds for eg growing sunflowers will say something to the effect of " don't eat the seed in this packet, but if you grow the plant in suitable conditions feel free to harvest the seed from the plants and eat them". I believe it is a similar thing re bird food .

    edit to add - @wild edges put it far better than I did, didn't see the post in time.
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,476
    I think it was Simon Reeve on one of his travel series who described India as the most corrupt place he had ever been to.  That corruption was that the rich had no interest beyond their own self interest and, to them, the absolute poverty of large parts of the nation was nothing to do with them.
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,320
    I don’t know if it’s more corrupt, but the caste system keeps people firmly in their place so there is a a sort of “it’s my lot” feeling about the place.

    I know when I lived in London I worked with several people with Indian surnames and they all had each other plotted on the social scale in much the same way that we would if a Dalrymple met a Dalgleish.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 3,399
    Not very helpful but the posts from both @pansyface and @Hostafan1 should make us realise what Poverty actually is.  The News channels here persist in showing us plump, well dressed, beautifully tanned/made up people in immaculate well furnished homes who are apparently living in poverty. 
    I'm not disputing for a minute that these people may well be suffering but nothing akin to those in many parts of the world.
    Perhaps some research into how many people in the UK have actually had their cause of death listed as Starvation may not go amiss. People in dire straits should be helped but let's get real - use what money we have more wisely to aim it in the right direction.

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