I hate food waste. Yet I am guilty of it. Yes, I have thrown food away in the past.
I hate food waste because I know there are people all over the world who won’t eat a meal today.Some may have a handful of rice if they are in a third world country, or a tin of tomatoes mixed with spam and pasta if they can use a foodbank in a first world country. England, America, Canada , Australia. Everyone of these rich counties have foodbanks. There are foodbanks in Nantwich, in Salisbury and Lichfield. Desirable, affluent towns and cities, have foodbanks.
No one is surprised that there is a foodbank in Smethwick or West Bromwich. These are areas of high deprivation, low educational attainment and long term unemployment. There is also a transient population of asylum seekers and refugees and hostels for the homeless. Disappointed. But not surprised.
Smethwick Foodbank has been feeding families for three years now. Families that have a wage earner and families that don’t, rely on foodbank to feed their children.
Yet supermarkets, farmers and people like you and me throw food away everyday.
Farmers are ploughing carrots and potatoes back into their fields because they are the wrong shape to fit into supermarket packaging.
Supermarkets throw away edible food away as it is past its sell by date.
Cafes and restaurants throw food away as it reaches its best before date. Perfectly Edible food. In the bin.
Yet most food is still edible way beyond its best before date. Food in tins can still be ok after seven years according to this blog.
In my recent kitchen blitz, I found a can of evaporated milk from 2012 and some unopened pasta flour from 2013. As I tend to shop daily and not do a huge monthly or weekly shop I pride myself not to have out of date food lurking in the cupboard. I can account for the pasta flour but not the milk. There were a few other items that I knew that I would never eat, tiny pastas for soups, from 2012. Wholemeal bread flour from 2013. I applied the 365 rule, and out of the cupboard they came.
I am pleased to be able to say nothing pre-dated 2012. When clearing out my mother in laws cupboards there was food dating back 10 years. Each time we visit we sift as she has the same food bought for her every week and never eats it. And donate it to a foodbank.
Very often foodbanks get donations that are past their best before dates, by up to a decade. Possibly more. These are usually because someone is clearing out a house of a relative that has passed away or moved to a care home. It is great that they don’t throw them away, but foodbanks cannot take them.
There is a solution however. The Real Junk Food Project who intercept food that would otherwise go to landfill, then cook and serve it, but not sell it, in cafes all over the country. Which is where I took my small stash.
For all the other food I have in the past chucked in the bin, I resolve to come up with ways of reducing it if not eliminating it. My first rule is to buy only what I need. Shopping at Aldi helps as there are no bogof offers to turn my head. I already always use a list and check what I have in the house, and plan meals accordingly. Except that I never seem to plan a meal around the lentils that have been lurking around for too long. Perhaps, as the founder of The Real Junk Food Project got some of his inspiration from Lentil as Anything in Melbourne, the lentils could find a new home at The Pay as You Feel Cafe in Birmingham? I think they probably will.
I am also going to adopt some of the good tips to prevent food waste in this blog post I mentioned earlier. And go through the fridge and freezer and see what is hidden in there. The chicken I roasted on Sunday will be a chicken pie on Wednesday. The carcass will provide stock for the soup I am making with a lurking leek, on Thursday.
With some meal planning on Thursday and only buying food that I need, I plan to have my food waste reduced significantly going forward. It will also mean that the clutter of unused food in cupboards, fridges and freezers, will be a thing of the past.