Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year—approximately 1.3 billion tonnes—is lost or wasted. Huge facts like this can be hard to digest, but made bite-size, this means that every week roughly one day’s worth of food per household is thrown away. Those familiar past-the-sell-by-date yoghurt pots, crusty bread ends and wrinkled grapes are costing the average household a shocking £700 each year. You would never dream of casually flinging a £10 note in the bin, yet edible, nutritious food is continuously met with this fate.
Although half of our annual waste comes from the domestic sphere, this is just one part of the food waste chain. Supermarkets are a forceful fuel behind the crisis with the over-ordering of shelf supplies seeing thousands of consumable products unsold and, subsequently, thrown away. Whilst this preventable practice is extremely frustrating, the strict cosmetic guidelines supermarkets apply to farmers’ produce are less publicised but even more ridiculous. Supermarket standards mean that perfectly edible crops are not making the cut because of their appearance and size, causing thousands of wonderful but ‘wonky’ vegetables to get the chop. Not only is this distressing for farmers crippled under the commercial superpowers, but for all who see the homeless on our streets and the malnourished children on our television screens.
So what can you do? An enjoyable yet constructive place to start is to watch ‘War on Waste’ on BBC1, where writer and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reveals just how much food and other recyclable materials are being wasted. Although he is pointing a finger at the Britain’s food industry’s flawed redistribution system, he highlights how we too can contribute to a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable society. The two episodes are available on iPlayer. But in the meantime, here are some quick tips for how you can help:
Don’t go by the best before dates! A handy test to tell whether eggs are good to eat is by placing them in a bowl of water, if they sink to the bottom they are completely fresh, if they rise they are rotten. Dates are simply guidelines, use your common sense and sniff test before you bin that yoghurt or hummus.
Don’t fall for the BOGOF (buy one get one free) deals in the supermarkets. Ask yourself, will you really be able to eat all this fresh produce? Do you really need it?
Use your freezer, get that sliced loaf of bread in there before it can go mouldy and freeze your fresh herbs—they take minutes to defrost but go off quickly when left in the fridge.
Use your leftovers before you head to the shops, some surprisingly tasty recipes can be whipped up from the random bits and bobs in your fridge; why not try bargain bruschetta?
‘Bargain Bruschetta’ ingredients:
– A few squishy tomatoes.
– Ends of bread.
– One onion.
– Grab a grater and those wrinkly tomatoes.
– Fry the onion in a splash of oil.
– Add the bread (if it’s slightly stale, even better, as it will soak up the oil better) and toss till golden.
– Mix the juicy tomato with the onions and place on top of the sliced crispy bread.
– Grind some salt and pepper to top.
– If you have some squidgy avocado too, any type of onion, going off yoghurt and a dollop of mayonnaise you can also make a quick and easy guacamole!
‘The Thrifty Cookbook’ by Kate Colquhoun at £9.99 would also be the perfect Christmas present, offering 476 ways to eat well with leftovers, a lovely illustrated book offering delicious dishes from curries to crumbles.
Get online to wastenotuk.com to read, sign, and share Hugh’s petition #wastenot and explore his quick, easy recipes. With the festive season in our sights, let’s indulge in ingenious ways!
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