Borough market 2In the UK we throw away 10.2 million tonnes of food waste each year, thus creating more than 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to that of 3.5 million cars. This results in huge environmental consequences. 108 kg of the food we buy per person each year, is wasted at home and gets thrown away. The Grocer magazine highlights the problem of Supermarket food waste and urges supermarkets to help solve the problem, explaining how vast amounts of edible food “from the UK’s retail and food manufacturing sector is wasted – equivalent to 250 million meals going uneaten”.

Supermarket demands for visual perfection, plus sales of multi packs and free offers, contribute hugely to our food waste and landfill, with rejected ‘imperfect’ produce left at the farm.

Before supermarkets, most shops sold small quantities of food in paper bags. At home people would eat the wonky and slightly marked fruit and veg – just as nutritious if not as attractive. Some of our food waste at home went into soups and stock while most unusable waste went on the compost heap if we had one. People shopped for just what was needed, leftover food was re-used, food was fresh, meals good and virtually no waste or mountains of packaging, plastic or rotting unused produce.

Leek ButtermarketWe may not want to return completely to those days but do need to do what we can to reduce food waste and cost by buying just the food we need, perhaps in smaller quantities and not in the ‘convenient’ portion sizes dictated by a food chain. Locally in the Moorlands, there are still places where e.g., fruit and veg can be bought by quantity; put in paper bags and served with a smile e.g., Mandy’s in Fountain street, Food Markets in Leek and Cheadle; you will know others. Also, more recently, many supermarkets now do offer ‘loose’ fruit and veg where you can pick your own quantity.

These days, most of us already know that food waste is a BIG problem. Its production, manufacture, sale and the hospitality sector form part of the Food Service industry, which accounts for huge levels of food waste annually. According to Fareshare “…hundreds of thousands of tonnes of good food (3.6 million tonnes) is wasted by the UK food industry every year, while 8.4 million people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat". This is disgraceful.

Our own individual purchases, choices and consumption play their part too. In March 2021, we had Food Waste Action Week (FWAW) to highlight that wasted food is an issue that affects the planet and affects everyone. (FWAW) was set up by WRAP, an organisation working to encourage everyone to source and use resources sustainably. Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, said: “The climate crisis remains one of the biggest and most urgent challenges facing humanity. Wasted food has a significant contribution to climate change, and is something we need to address together.”

afra ramio 0R2lOqibKgA unsplashFriends of the Earth also highlight the cost, not just to the environment but also to the animals that people consume, for example:- 50 million chickens are wasted in the UK each year and 100 million pints of milk are tipped down the drain each year in the UK.

So, what should we do?.. If you would like ideas of how you can help to cut down on food waste at home, here are some suggestions from WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign - scroll down the webpage for these suggestions. Alternatively, why not try Riverford’s No Time to Waste recipes? Or, how about joining ‘Baking to Zero Waste’, the Facebook group for sharing recipes, ideas, recommendations and advice for all things to do with cooking and baking. There are LOTS more ideas, suggestions and useful Apps to help us. Here are a few ideas. Why not have a look and even share your favourite leftover recipes with us? We’d love to try them?

  • Leftover half a lemon? – slice it, pop in freezer = ready-made iced slice for a tall cold drink.
  • Make a good soup or curry mix with whatever you have thrown in! (Thanks for that one Alana)
  • Use up sliced bread in a Bread and Butter pudding or breadcrumbs in an Apple Charlotte
  • Use up broccoli/calabrese stalk, cut the upper thick stems into thin slices and add to a stir fry
  • You can find a video here showing an interesting take on using a broccoli stalk with no waste of stalk!
    Knife Skills | No Waste Broccoli | VEG HACKS

For more ideas and information, go to Riverford's Wicked Leeks magazine.

Chicken Photo - Photo by Afra Ramió;utm_content=creditCopyText">Afra Ramió on Unsplash