Here's The Thing... On Food Waste

By some estimates one-third of all food produced each year ends up wasted.
In Britain it's estimated 9.5 million tonnes is wasted annually, and 70% (6.65Mt) of that comes from household waste.

This is not sustainable. Even more so as the cost of food continues to rise, and is expected to keep doing so as the twin effects of climate and world instability impinge on production and delivery costs.

In our house we take some basic steps to reduce the amount of food that is wasted.

1 - Use a menu. Having a weekly menu means our shopping can be targeted for produce we will need, and therefore use. It prevents overshopping and grabbing produce that 'might be useful'.

2 - Enjoy leftovers. In affluent countries the idea of a 'leftovers' day fell away for a long time, but people are wising up to it being a great way to have a cheap lunch or simple dinner option. Piling a plate high and scraping away the leftovers was never something I did, and the family follow me in this.

3 - Maximise the yield! This means things like using the carcase from a roast chicken to make stock for soup or risotto, doing similar with vegetable trimmings.

4 - Go by the food, not the date on the packet. Most food has a 'best before' date. With tins this can be pretty much ignored so long as the tin is undamaged. For fresh produce it is of course different. With fruit and veg you may want it to be nicely ripe to eat or cook with, but it is easy to let carrots get a little limp, apples soft, bananas brown, or lettuce wilted. Instead of throwing them out they can be cooked and incrporated into sauces, or cakes, or stews. Drizzling oil and salt on some wilted veg and putting them in the oven on a high heat until the edges start to blacken can make for a terrific vegetable sauce. Blitz the veg up with a jar of passata and pass it through a seive to get rid of any seeds or stringy bits and I guarantee that will taste better with some pasta than the sugar filled jar from the supermarket. Meat is easier, if it smells bad, bin it. But you can limit the times this happens by freezing what you buy until the day before you need it, or cooking it off and keeping it refrigerated.

Today my daughter caught me about to waste something. We had roast chicken and I'd made a marinade. Normally I'll bung an onion and carrot in with the carcase and boil it up, and then down, for stock. But the marinade wouldn't give a nice flavor to stock so I'd said to bin the carcase. My daughter stripped it of all available meat and has enough for chicken salad for a couple of lunches. Ooh, did she tell me off for being willing to just throw it away.

Of course, not everyone has the capacity to freeze or refrigerate. Nor to budget ahead for both time and money. The things I suggest may not work for your circumstances. But then, you may be able to do things which I cant.

Here's The Thing, for most things household, individual, action has a limited impact. But if we reduce our personal food waste that is going to impact our personal housholds significantly. Imagine the food you through away is currency, actual notes and coins. Not throwing that money away every week is quickly going to add up to something that can be purchased or replaced.

text by header by stuartcturnbull

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