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Food wastage is a problem, but one easily solved with a little ingenuity

fridgeQuite a fuss was made about the revelation from Tesco that over two-thirds of its salad bags are wasted.  It prompted stories about food waste and calls for supermarkets to stop encouraging people to buy more food than they can use.  The criticism struck me as misplaced, in that the real story was about consumers wasting food, not about supermarkets wasting it.  A BBC magazine story says that 40 percent of apples and nearly half of all bakery items go uneaten.  I find this scarcely credible, but if true, it points to bad management by people of their food stocks.  The article gives “six tricks to revive old food.”

I waste hardly any food at all, as I think I’ve said before.  It all comes down to management.  Leftovers can be frozen for subsequent meals.  Supermarket two-for-one offers can be snapped up with one frozen for later use.  Today’s meals can be planned on the basis of what was left over from yesterday.  Remaining vegetables can be recycled into soups.  Quiche is a great catch-all for leftovers, be they of bacon, sausage or vegetables.  Meats can go into hotpots and casseroles.  It’s not difficult.

As for keeping things fresh for as long as possible, wrapping in plastic bags in the fridge or freezer does a lot.  I keep spring onions and leeks in a mug of cold water, refreshed daily.  It’s fun to watch them grow.  Spare mushrooms will freeze if you peel them first, and will then be good for later omelets and stews.  Apples will keep if you separate them from each other with paper towels.  Does anyone else have good tips on how to avoid wasting food?

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4 Responses

  1. Speaking as a fat man, we often shop for health but can’t bring ourselves to eat it at home. Ergo salad wastage, etc.

    Much bread goes stale because unexpected interruptions and invitations keep it from being eaten as planned. In an often mercurial social life, consumers prefer to throw some foodstuffs away than to risk hunger and an empty fridge, methinks. It is wasteful, but it reflects rational choices somehow. TESCO have both moral and economic reasons to reduce wastage, but consumers have fewer.

  2. In answer you your request for food storage tips. Bananas in particular, either touching or in close proximity to any fruit will rapidly accelerate ripening. Whilst on this subject, I noted your remark about keeping apples separated with paper towels. My dear old mother (now long gone) would stand apples separated by a finger width on newspaper, some varieties lasting nearly all winter. She ‘ bottled ‘ pears and plumbs in Kilner jars and we ate the fruit throughout the winter and into the spring. We had a large walk in pantry and the upper shelves were full of home made jam and bottled fruit, almost a lost art in 2013.

  3. Food waste is a ‘problem’? For whom?

    Having bought my food what I do with it is my business, nobody else’s.

    If I am buying more food than I eat, I am smart enough to know to adjust my buying habits, or rich enough not to care.

    Food not sold in Tesco stores is a stock management failure and a failure for Tesco’s shareholders.

  4. Part of my food waste is through buying things reduced. I have got in the past 10kg of potatoes with 80% reduction. If I use half of them, I do not consider it a waste. Similarly, buying a bag of salad for 10p is not a waste if I use a quarter.
    Generally, some waste is a good thing. For many there is cost to planning and making meals. It is a chore, that many do not want to undertake. A minority see making meals a challenge, but many adults (especially with families) just want something easy and a weekly shop where food requirements are estimated, rather than each meal planned in advance. Leftovers or surplus just get binned rather than re-used. The financial cost of wasted food is less than the leisure time forgone is detailed planning.
    Also, there is a perpetual conflict between children’s finiky preferences and making sure they have a healthy diet. Along with that, the volume of food my teenage children eat varies from day-to-day. So the wasted food is a consequence of imperfect knowledge.

    Finally, I have a distrust of statistics. Does food “waste” include potato peelings, apple cores, banana skins, chicken carcasses or pork fat?

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