Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Food waste

I just watched Great British Waste Menu and feel compelled to actually write a post I've been thinking about writing for ages about the problem of waste food. The programme was trying to ram home the message that
Just because food is misshapen, blemished or the wrong size, it doesn't mean it's inedible. Yet every year retailers bin a shocking 400,000 tons of food.

To do this Angela Hartnett, Richard Corrigan, Matt Tebutt and Simon Rimmer created a banquet for 60 using waste food sourced from supermarket bins, restaurant waste and suppliers whose food didn't live up to the supermarkets standards.

It's this last thing that really irritates me. The way in which supermarkets dominate the food industry in this country is just madness. They are the ones that introduced these ridiculous standards like tomatoes being perfect crimson red spheres. Consumers have got so used to this that now that's what they expect. Now we've got a vicious circle where supply meets a demand it created and perpetuates. If you go into any supermarket on the continent they have real vegetables that are all different shapes and colours but all taste great (far better than the bland uniform single species we are subjected to).

We need to get back to eating seasonal local food. Isn't it ridiculous that the UK can't now produce enough food to sustain its own population? English asparagus is a wonderful treat available for only a few weeks a year. We should cherish and celebrate this, not fly in supplies from Peru. It's an irresponsible way to behave. [Note I realise I'm over simplifying and that there is now a huge moral dilemma created by importing from a third world whose economies rely on the export trade.]

Another aspect of the problem is that people just don't apply common sense. Slavish conformance to a confusing food labelling system means perfectly good food is thrown away. This is compounded because people just don't cook any more, so they don't know what to do with the random leftovers in the fridge.

This is such a massive subject that something radical needs to be done so that society starts behaving responsibly and acting in a sustainable manner, it leaves me wondering what I can do.

I know something can be done because I barely throw any food out because its gone off. I don't live a puritan lifestyle either. I just buy what I need and make sure I use it all. It's not rocket surgery.

I whole heartedly support WRAP's Love Food hate waste campaign and the work of FareShare. There must be more I can do; maybe teach people to cook or finally find a charity I can volunteer for. It's so very frustrating not being able to make a difference...



  1. Hi. Excellent post - I love a good rant! Honestly though, I completely agree that the power the supermarkets have over what we eat and what it looks like has gone a bit mad. We as in my family) grow a lot of our own stuff, and it doesn't matter how gnarly or misshapen it is, it all tastes great. I think you've hit the nail on the head though with your point that some people don't know what to do with leftovers. I'm a big proponent of getting cooking back into schools so that people at least learn the basics. Anyway, that's my rant over! Keep it coming...

  2. Glad you agree. It's nice to know I'm not on my own about this.

    I'd love to grow some of my own stuff, but unfortunately living in a flat in London means there's not much I can do about that!


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