OLIO – the app that helps avoid food waste

So much food, which takes so much energy, work and care to be made, gets wasted every single day…bag loads of edible food are discarded merely yards away from people who cannot even afford to buy it. It breaks my heart.
It’s a symptom of a failed food system, and even though it may be the norm in the Global North it does not mean it’s right.

This video says it all: The Extraordinary Life and Times of a Strawberry. It’s under 2 minutes and well worth a watch.

The good news is, we can all do something to prevent this is awful waste.
During class, one day, someone mentioned there was an app which helps reduce food waste by connecting people who have surplus / unwanted / unnecessary food to others who want or need it.

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3 Reasons Why I Loathe Food Waste

I loathe food waste.

There are several reasons why I hate it:

  • It’s waste, and I really detest any type of waste because it means something that could have been used was thrown away and became litter: about one third of the global food production is lost or wasted every year.
  • Food waste is not only a waste of the product itself but of all the energy that was necessary to produce it: water, electricity, fuel for transport, packaging etc.
  • There were 925 million hungry people in 2010, and as the world’s population is constantly on the rise, I’m afraid there are even more hungry people now. Thinking that something so absolutely essential as food is so recklessly going in the bin every single day makes me extremely sad and angry.

In developed countries food is wasted at consumption stage, rather than during production, which means we can really do something to avoid it.

So if you would like to save money, save energy, protect the environment and avoid being part of this sad reality do your best not to waste food.

In the U.K.Β  alone 7 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year, at an estimated cost of Β£450 per family!

Fortunately there are several organisations and movements designed to raise awareness of this issue, such as The People’s Supermarket.

The People’s Supermarket – photo from suma.coop

You can catch up and watch The People’s Supermarket on 4od and see how chef Arthur Potts Dawson opened it with the intention of having a supermarket that sold unwanted food (such as misshapen potatoes and cucumbers) at a cheaper price to benefit both the buyers and the farmers and operated in the most sustainable way possible.

I loved watching this programme and the episode where he made a massive dinner for dozens of people using food that he got from supermarkets’ bins was amazing!

A great charity is Fareshare: fighting hunger and tackling food waste and therefore trying to solve both food poverty and food waste.

A few months ago a great event took place in Trafalgar Square in London, Feeding the 5k fed 5,000 people and made a lovely curry using fresh ingredients that would otherwise go to waste because they don’t meet the supermarkets’ beauty standards: wonky carrots, odd potatoes and other tasty food.

Have a look at their captivating and shocking food waste facts, although the first one is enough for me: “There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tonnes of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.”

Food chains such as Pret a Manger provide homeless people with fresh food at the end of the day and prevent more than 250 tonnes of food from going to landfill every year. I wish all shops did that!

As mentioned in my “Eat your way to sustainability” post, you can do your bit and visit Love Food Hate Waste, a great site to look up countless recipes aimed at avoiding food waste, and BBC Food where you type up to 3 key ingredients to have a myriad of delicious recipes that will help you use up food that is perishing.

So, I seem pretty passionate about this food waste matter, so what do I do not to waste precious food?

-I am very careful with the food that I buy, I keep in mind what fresh ingredients I buy and use them up before they have a chance to go off: simple but not always easy! Supermarket offers often encourage us to buy more, but if it ends up in the bin we simply waste money.

-If something is out of date I use common sense to tell if it’s still ok to eat: I have eyes and a sense of smell, so why not use them? Sorry, but I find it hard to understand why some people just automatically throw food away just because it’s 1 or 2 days out of date without even checking it…

-A few months ago I watched another documentary where they ran a test on food when it was fresh and once it had been out of date for 10 days: out of all the ingredients they tested such as tomatoes,chicken, ham etc only ham was actually unsafe to eat after 10 days had passed! Of course, you have to be careful with food safety, but supermarkets have to display a date within which the product is completely safe to eat, so a couple of days over doesn’t necessarily mean the food is actually off.

-If I eat out and can’t finish the food I ordered, I ask for it to be put in a box to take home. Some may be too embarrassed to do so, but think about it: by taking the food home you are saying “This food is too good to waste (check out the site), please put it in a box and I will enjoy it later/tomorrow”. Isn’t that a compliment?

-I store food the best way I can to preserve it properly: if you open a packet of cereals and leave it open of course they will become soggy and disgusting, leftovers are best kept covered in the fridge once they’ve cooled down, some vegetables are best kept in the fridge and some not, packets usually say how it’s best to store the product or if in doubt you can look it up on the NHS site to prevent bacteria from growing.

-I regularly have a look at the reduced to clear section in supermarkets to see if there are any bargains I can save money on and save from the bin, whether it’s parsley, bread or Quorn mince.

Actually on Friday, after having dinner with my girlfriends, I walked past the M&S in Holborn and went in to -I admit it- see if there were any reduced bargains and – there were! πŸ™‚

Reduced to Clear M&S food

How ridiculously reduced was this?? 10p each!!!

I got 2 sandwiches and a fresh pressed juice for my boyfriend and carrot and houmous for me for a total of 40p!

I went to the bakery section to see if they had any bread reduced but unfortunately I saw a man cleaning the shelves and all the boxes on display were empty. Behind him there was a big wheely bin with “Food Waste Only” written on it. I approached it (probably with a slight look of terror) and saw lots of food inside.

Food Waste Bin

Look at all those lovely scones and baguettes! To think I only buy from M&S as a treat and these still fresh items were condemned to be binned 😦

I (S) asked the man (M) a few questions:

S: Excuse me, are there any bakery items left?

M: No. Not until tomorrow.

S: So can’t I buy any of these? (referring to the food waste goodies)

M: NO.

S: 😦

It was painful to see, but this is just a teeny-weeny example of something that takes place every single day.

What do you think of food waste?

What do you do to prevent wasting food?

Do you wish more was done to limit food waste?

Homeless Vegetables and Popular Oaty Bars – Vegan Day 17

Day….ermm let me think……oh yes, day 17 of my vegan pledge and I fancy so many things that have egg or milk in them, probably because I am subconsciously trying to annoy myself! πŸ˜›

I even had a dream where I said “Oh no I can’t eat that at the moment, not during my vegan pledge..” haha!!!

I sometimes have vegetables in the fridge that look like they’re being neglected because they’ve been in there for a few days, but rather than making beautiful things like cauliflower sheep, I usually think of some sort of recipe to use them all up into some sort of vegetable delight.

Vegan sheep! Picture from Google

I absolutely hate-hate-hate waste, so what better way of using homeless looking veggies than making a vegetable curry?

I used my stray vegetables of the day to make about 4 portions of curry:

Anti-Waste Vegetable Curry

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala spice mix
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot, in big chunks
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes or fresh ones if they need using up
  • 1 400g tin of green lentils
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • chilli flakes (optional)
  • broccoli, about half a head

-Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for about 3 minutes;

-Add the spice mix and chilli (if using), celery and the carrot and let cook for a couple of minutes;

-Add the chopped tomatoes and lentils and the broccoli and simmer for about 15 minutes (or until the carrots are cooked enough for your taste)

-Serve with poppadoms, lime pickle, white rice, pitta bread and a dash of Tabasco if you love a spicy kick like I do!

Homeless Vegetables-using Curry

This lovely satisfying meal was quick and easy to do, and all of it was vegan!

The website Love Food Hate Waste has tons of useful recipes for using other stray ingredients.

 

~

 

On Sunday I tried a new recipe from my library vegan cookbook: Quick and Easy Breakfast Bars (makes 12)

Ingredients:

  • 75g quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 125g wholemeal or plain flour
  • 125g brown sugar (I used soft brown sugar) / 3 tbsp sweetener such as Canderel
  • ΒΌ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ΒΌ tsp of salt
  • ΒΌ ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground mixed spice
  • 8 tbsp mixed seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower…)
  • 6 tbsp raisins or sultanas
  • 125ml sunflower or rapeseed oil

All you need

-Heat the oven to 170C;

-Lightly oil a 6×8 inches baking tin;

-Mix all the dry ingredients together then stir in the oil and mix well;

-Press the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes (do check it every now and then though, I think mine came out a little over done, so leave it in as long as required with your oven);

-Let it cool and cut into slices. Enjoy!

Mix Well

Bake and Enjoy

If you keep the bars in an airtight container they last up to a week (if you don’t eat them all before like I did!)

I took some to work and they proved to be very popular bars indeed! My colleagues liked them, my boyfriend likes them very much and I love them!

They actually taste buttery even though there is now butter in them, and the great thing is you can interchange the ingredients and use whatever else you like: you could use apples or dried mango instead of raisins, walnuts instead of the seeds…

I also tried adding 99% Cocoa Lindt vegan chocolate to one batch:

Vegan Chocolate Bars: Addictive!

…it was so delicious!

 

Do you like cereal bars? Which ones are your favourite?