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. alone 7 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year, at an estimated cost of £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! 🙂
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)
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?