Food for Thought


Last week saw the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic carrier bags at our local supermarkets. In my opinion this charge is long overdue and I can’t think why it’s taken so long to implement this, given they’ve been doing it in Germany for over 30 years.  Carrier bags are the ruination of our countryside with bags caught up in the hedgerows, not to mention the blighting of our coastal areas and impact on wildlife.

This waste is only one of its kind.  Last year in Britain alone, we threw away over £12 billion worth of food.  This figure is made up of food and drinks not used in time (£5.6 billion) as well as cooked or prepared food (which accounts for another £4.1 billion).  So for the average person, this equates to approx £16,000 of wasted food over the course of their lifetime.

Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted worldwide.  This includes about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people worldwide suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.  According to the UN if the amounts of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25%, there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished.

Waste not – want not

I think food has become a greater source of comfort then we realise.  We‘ve developed a terrific sense of food materialism where food symbolises more than its functionality.  This behaviour extends to over-buying at the supermarket to feel that we have a well-stocked larder/fridge for the week ahead with the vain notion that we might actually use it all.   There is a sense of panic that we may run out of food and so the safer option is too over buy.  Furthermore, we want choices and so we buy more than we need, to give us a variety of options.

Then there’s the collection of single recipe ‘off the beat’ ingredients.  The ingredients we buy to make a particular recipe and never quite get round to using again.  I think I’m guilty of that trait on occasions.

Another contributory factor is the sale of pre-packaged foods, such as packs of tomatoes and carrots as opposed to loose weight.  How often do you use half a packet of sugar snap peas and never quite get round to using the rest?  I highly recommend buying loose ingredients as you can at your local grocers.  Loose weight enables you to buy just what you need for your family meal requirements rather than 200G.

I think the BoGoF (buy one get one free) offers are also responsible to some extent.  Tempted by the offer (which it never really is) we hoard things then never get round to eating them, or worse still over indulge.

If you find you do have an abundance of leftover ingredients then one simple way I have found to use food efficiently and nutritionally is with tray bakes, smoothies and soups.  You can generally just chop the ingredients up, throw them all in with a few choice herbs and job done. Simple, tasty and nutritious.  My Nutri bullet (or any smoothie maker) is a real money saver and nutrient angel for using up random bits of fruit and veg and turning them into a super meal.

I think its time to reconnect with food and share one of the greatest joys of life – cooking and eating together as a family. The sharing of food is singularly one of the greatest pleasures when done with family and friends.   If we were to share more then perhaps we would throw away less of our precious food and prevent hunger.




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