With the coming Chinese New Year, I find the following article worth posting to remind ourselves how and why not to waste.
'The typical British household could save £50 a month by minimising its food waste.'
The figures are stark: up to 2bn tonnes of perfectly good food is wasted every year – between 30% and 50% of all the food produced around the world. In Britain alone we waste a quarter of all the food we buy. This includes 1.6bn apples and 2.6bn slices of bread. If you could somehow get all the food we waste in the UK into the bellies of the world's malnourished people, two-thirds of them would no longer go hungry.
Much of this waste is cultural. Your average Briton wastes 112kg of food a year: Germans, who are much more frugal about food than we are, fritter only 15kg. (Americans are even worse than us.) And that shows we could change some of this. Wasting food isn't merely bad for its own sake: as Tristram Stuart shows in his powerful book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, it damages the environment, uses up dwindling resources, and contributes to the rising cost of food in the developing world. The more food you buy that you don't need to eat, the hungrier goes the global south. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) calculates that the typical British household could save £50 a month by minimising its food waste.
There are several easy steps many of us can take to reduce our own waste of food. One of the most important is to treat use-by dates with scepticism. Supermarkets are quite reasonably terrified of poisoning their customers – Stuart shows how they calculate those dates for people who leave their shopping in hot cars for hours on end, put it in poorly working fridges, and so on. Evolution has given you clear and powerful senses that can help to determine if meat or produce has gone bad. Bear use-by dates in mind, of course, but you know from the smell of the milk if you shouldn't be drinking it.
The most recent report partly blames "supermarkets that demand cosmetically perfect foodstuffs" for the scandalous waste of food in the western world. But while most people understand in principle that a small strawberry tastes as good or even better than a large one, many of us still reject bent carrots or misshapen pears. The disastrous global harvest last year meant that some British supermarkets began to stock "ugly" fruit and veg – they should be encouraged to continue this. It's a sad fact that many people will choose flavourless, clinically uniform, gas-ripened Dutch tomatoes over fat, knobbly, variegated, juicy homegrowns. Until, that is – and to borrow a slogan – they taste the difference. If you buy fruit and veg from your local grocer you may well be able to get them in smaller quantities. If you buy them from a farmer, they may well be fresher.
Some people think that if they buy ready meals they're wasting less food. They may be on an individual basis, but they certainly aren't on a wider one. The waste involved in ready meal production, through trimmings, rejected meat and vegetables, the almost eugenic quest for uniformity, far exceeds that of a few bananas you leave to go black. Where time allows for it, cooking your own meals means less waste. And leftovers make good lunches.
I live in a city, so can't really keep chickens or bees, and I lack the freezer space to store a whole pig or lamb. But I know people who've done it and who've said that being able eat the whole beast helped them to enjoy it more, and waste less. Wasting less food is not only good for the pocket and the planet, it can benefit the mind as well. So do share your best tips for cutting down on food wastage below the line.
(posted by Bhupendra Jesrani in amdavadis4ever)