The issue of food waste is becoming evermore apparent and many of us are hit hard by the still straggling effects of the financial crisis over the last decade. With most needing to watch the pennies more, let alone the millions of people and animals starving, home and away; finding ways to reduce what we bin has become a high priority for most and should be for all.
Why, you ask?
You may not yourself be one who needs to watch every transaction of your bank account and budget for the weekly food shop. It might not hurt you financially if you throw out a few bags of stir fry vegetables and a few browning broccoli’s, but it may hurt you and other’s in so many other ways.
I paid for it so it’s up to me if I want to bin it right?
Well, no, is the ethical answer to that, it shouldn’t be OK for you to bin perfectly edible produce jut because you brought it and it’s a darn shame that food may have been able to get to the point of going passed it best in the first place. We’ve all heard the rule of not shopping when hungry as we over-shop and this is especially important for perishable items. Furthermore, when people tell me that their cucumber was bad so it was binned, I can’t help but wonder, was it really bad? Did it just no longer look like a perfect shiny supermarket model but was fine to eat or perhaps it just needed that bad bit cut off? We need to be asking these questions to ourselves before we press on the pedal bin.
What about the animal products thrown away that animals suffered for, worked tirelessly for and died for? What about the food binned that could have fed animals from farms to zoos to vets to rescue centres? I have met people who throw out greens when they have rabbits in the garden and pasta when they have chickens.
Why does food waste matter?
- Worldwide more than 800 million people do not have enough to eat. That means one in nine people are suffering from hunger (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2014)
- Hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide. Each year the death toll exceeds that of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined (World Food Program, 2012).
- Every year, nearly 3 million children die from hunger-related causes (World Food Program, 2012).
- Approximately 60% of the chronically hungry are women (World Food Program, 2012).
- One-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted EACH YEAR, that is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes (The Global FoodBanking Network, 2011).
- Food discarded in landfills begins to produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas with over 20 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gas damages our water supply, land, air … and ultimately harms this and future generations (The Global FoodBanking Network , 2013).
- In Britain alone, 4.2m tonnes of food and drink is binned every year that could have been consumed, that’s 24 meals a month or a meal 6 days a week. That is just the avoidable waste with an extra 1.2m tonnes of possibly avoidable waste (Wrap, 2012).
- British food waste costs us £12.5bn a year (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).
- If we stopped throwing good, safe, edible food away it would save the equivalent of at least 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the same as taking 1 in every 4 cars off the roads in Britain alone (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).
- When food is wasted, the immense amount of energy used to create that food is also wasted plus the resources to get rid of it after you bin it (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).
The 2011 Global Food Loss and Waste study, commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that;
- Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes)
- The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010)
- Per capita waste by consumers is between 95 and115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year.
If your food is really going bad?
- Feed it to your pet animals where appropriate or donate to a local rescue centre or other animal holding.
- Compost to use to grow your own food or plant bee friendly flowers.
- Use fruit that is overripe for a pie or crumble filling, smoothie, cake, jam or vegan jelly or simply freeze for later use.
- Onions, garlic, herbs, ginger and chillies can be prepared and frozen, just like those expensive packets you can buy in the freezer at the supermarket.
- Herbs and spices such as ginger, chillies and fresh turmeric can be hung and dried.
- Use soft herbs and leaves such as spinach, kale and rocket to make pestos which can even be frozen.
- Use woody herbs to infuse oil.
- On prepackaged produce and prepared foods, learn to understand the difference between sell-by and best-before dates and the use-by date. The former are often manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality and not strict indicators of whether a food is still safe for consumption. Don’t throw food away just because the print tells you too, use your judgement!
How to avoid food waste?
- Buy only what you need, make a shopping list based on planned ahead meals for the week. Don’t buy large quantities of food if you don’t have time to consume it. For instance, buy loose fruits and vegetables rather than prepackaged so you can choose how much you need. Of course, avoid grocery shopping when hungry! We all have eyes bigger than our bellies.
- Buy ugly fruits and vegetables, those that get left behind just because they don’t look perfect.
- Check your fridge temperature regularly and invest in a fridge thermometer. Food needs to be stored at the right temperature – 1 to 5C – to remain fresh.
- Properly pack fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh.
- Use natural products to extend the life of produce such as Fresha Bags or the BerryBreeze device.
- Buy safe foods that are doomed for waste from online stores such as Approved Food.
I was sent a pack of Fresha Bags to sample. They use innovative Fresh ‘n’ Smart® technology to keep food food fresher for longer, reduce waste, save money and help the environment.
NATURAL – REUSABLE – RECYCLABLE
Fresh ‘n’ Smart® Technology contains a special blend of minerals that has been developed to provide a safe and convenient way to naturally extend the life of many fresh fruit and vegetables.
The minerals are carefully selected to create a perfect, breathable environment that your fresh produce needs to stay ‘fresha®’ for longer.
This new and exiting product will mean significant savings by reducing the amount of food that you throw away every year.
I took an organic green batavia lettuce from my organic veg delivery and kept half in the original packaging and half in the Fresha bag which I sealed. I left undisturbed for 5 days. This is the result. It is clear that the bags increase longevity of foods and I have since used the bags to store everything from peppers to mushrooms and potatoes, but I most rate their ability to keep leaves and lettuces crisp and fresh.
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