There is a shocking statistic that 30% of the food we purchase is thrown away here in Britain. That is a huge amount of food, food which could go to a worth cause to help disadvantaged families or the homeless. I will admit that my fridge does need a good clear out, it has it’s own eco system at the moment that I am afraid to disturb.
The question we should ask ourselves is how can we help reduce food waste and provide for others? By reducing food waste there is a butterfly effect which can happen which is not thought enough about. Helping with this issue creates more money in your own pocket, less waste, less packaging, less pollution, cleaner living and a well rounded lifestyle.
How many times have you walked to the kitchen, looked around and felt disheartened by the contents of the cupboard or fridge and decided to go out and buy more food – or even eat out or order take away? It happens and we have all done it. But shopping whilst hungry can be a dangerous game as those impulse buys are the things which normally end up being wasted first.
I am trying to do my bit for the cause. The last few days I have made store cupboard meals with just what was around – I would have been out the door to the first supermarket normally, but actually we had plenty in the house. In fact, more than plenty. A vat of tuna pasta salad, cottage pie, chili and rice, satay noodles with king prawns, all meals that I managed to cobble together. Money saved and tummies full, there is a sense of accomplishment when you eat this way.
Two projects which I learned about recently were food waste projects which help distribute food to the community. One is via the mobile app OILO, like Freecycle but for a foodie community. Users post items of surplus food, which can be from extra portions of a dinner which has just been cooked, through to eateries and restaurants who have excess food which will not be used. For example, a leading chicken take away food establishment freezes all chicken which has been cooked but not sold with an hour’s time frame. This can then be collected by local groups, food banks or members of the OILO community can request a bag of chicken.
Here in Lancaster and Morecambe I have recently learned about a food Co-op group through a local church. With weekly meetings, members get to attend a group meeting to socialise with members of their community, make a small donation to the church group and take it in turns to fill one or two carrier bags with food which has been collected from local establishments, supermarkets and via donations. Most recently members of the group took home cheeses which were packaged for Christmas but the supermarkets could not sell, Easter chocolates from a high end supermarket and even full family meals in the way of cooked pies and casseroles from a local bakery. All for the cost of a coffee from a high street coffee shop.
Seeing these projects starting to gain momentum has really made me think about how we can tackle food waste. Why do we now live in a culture that purchasing of pre-packaged food is cheaper than actually cooking, yet we are encouraged to eat healthy. So many parents and families are so short on time that it is now the norm to grab a pizza, or a take away instead of cooking. Over estimating what food is required and we all have gone back to the fridge a few days later and binned the left overs that will never get eaten.
So here I am admitting that I too have added to the food waste problem but I am now actively involved in helping raise awareness and cutting down on waste, in the home and outside.
Do you have any local co-op groups or do you use any other food waste apps? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.