Save food, save money

I lived in southern Spain from 2000 to 2012, in a beautiful small seaside village (pueblo!) with a daily market,

with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh produce from the local surrounding hills and farms and plenty of

chit chat with the stall holders unlike supermarkets where products all neatly packaged and controlled are

whizzed through the scanner and conversation is scarce as if it were a non-human transaction.

 

That village market in La Herradura, the Horseshoe, offered a feast for the stomach, the eyes, the nostrils,

and the soul. The fruit and vegetables were natural as nature intended, in season, all shapes and sizes, fresh

from the trees and local fields, none of this nonsense about having to be specific sizes, weights and shapes.

The fish was freshly each morning.

 

Food waste

 

Now residing back in Scotland, I hear much that food waste is a major issue in Britain today.

In British homes each year we waste around 15 million tonnes of food and drink, the majority of which

could have been eaten. The cost is a whopping £12.5bn a year and growing and because so much still

goes to landfill it is bad for the environment as the methane released damages our green house gas.

 

Over a year the average family wastes more than £700 of its food shopping, the majority still, or once was, perfectly good food. And this says nothing about the food bought that didn’t need to be bought!

 

Food wastage is also a huge waste of the energy, water and packaging used in food production, transportation and storage. If we each stopped wasting food which was still good enough to eat, it would have the same CO2 impact as taking 1 in 4 cars off UK roads.

 

But where do we get out food from? Who influences our food purchases?

 

Supermarkets mostly who not only engage in dishonest advertising, but are the death knell of small, independent grocers and butchers and other suppliers. We need to do more to influence supermarkets to take responsibility for the waste that they cause in the supply chain. For a start they could relax their ridiculous cosmetic (fruit and veg must look good!) standards for produce, and stop changing orders at the last moment and almost killing our farming and horticultural industries. We have to get them to stop punishing and pushing the waste problem onto their suppliers, putting them out of business.

 

Yes, some food waste is inevitable in supermarkets but why throw it away or put it out for anaerobic digestion, a process widely used to produce a biogas used directly as fuel and fertiliser?  Supermarkets need to make more authentic and obvious efforts to redistribute all their surplus good food and to give it to those who are in genuine need, instead of sending it to anaerobic processing. Hospitals could do likewise!

 

But what can we do?

 

 

  1. We can do an honest inventory of how we individually and collectively as a family or even organisation contribute to waste

  2. We can make a personal vow to live, shop, and eat wisely, more healthily and do all we can to minimise waste and to recycle

  3. We can campaign or support campaigns for governments and supermarkets to act with greater responsibility.

  4. We can reduce personal food waste through greater discipline in food shopping through smarter planning, shopping, storage and usage of what we buy

  5. We can aim to find local farmers markets and buy fresh local produce

  6. We can use what we’ve bought before we stock up again

  7. We can use up leftovers, food just past its sell-by/use by dates where possible – there are so many ideas on the world wide web so there is no excuse – it’s amazing what you can do with some almonds and a cucumber that is on the turn!

  8. We can be more vigilant about recycling - it means developing new and disciplined habits

  9. We can shun sloth, apathy, inertia and laziness – often the main impediments to minimising wastage and to healthy living.

 

Need some tips so far? Go to wastenotuk!

 

Every little really does help - or as we say in Scotland "every mickle macks a muckle!"

 

We as individuals really can implement small changes that make a big difference - in our health,

our well-being, in our finances. So now, just pick and choose from the Radical Healer’s list of tips

for reducing food waste below (or go hog wild and do them all!).

 

In advance of your shopping spree!

 

  1. Check your attitude – are you truly committed to making a difference in the betterment of your life, your health and in minimising food waste?

  2. Keep a record for two weeks and note where you waste food and how. This is a link to the diary offered by lovefoodhatewaste.com – it opens in a new window   http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/sites/files/lfhw/2013%20-%20Love%20Food%20Hate%20Waste%20food%20waste%20diary.pdf

  3. Learn from the diary – what jumps out at you as so obviously needing to change

  4. Plan mindfully!

  5. Then go do it!


Before setting out to shop

 

  1. Do a real inventory. Given how you wish to approach healthy eating, does your store cupboard, fridge and freezer contain anything that you know does not fit with the new regimen? Deciding to “ use up first all unhealthy stock” will not work.

  2. Plan meals in advance – and buy only fruit and veg that you need. If over the week recipes will call for only 3 -4 carrots or onions, then do not buy huge bags just because they are cheap or on offer. Buying loose could be more cost effective

  3. Plan your shopping – this avoids impulse buying and from buying things you are likely to use only once in a while, or even never at all.

  4. Create a list only for what you know you need  - remember this is about breaking impulsive and undisciplined habits and not giving in to “I’ll but it just in case!”

  5. Check your list against what you already have in stock. Avoid buying perishables until the current ones are all used up

  6. Check against false economy – do you really save on the buy-on-get-one-free offers?

  7. Commit to shopping mindfully!

 

At the Store

 

  1. Buy only what is on your list and what you need.

  2. Avoid the special buys unless you know you can use them.

  3. Don’t stock up on goods that have to be cooked in order to be consumed (such as baking supplies or dried grains and beans). It may be cheap to buy – but expensive in the making.

  4. Avoid shopping when hungry.

  5. Shop mindfully!

  6. Don’t be controlled  by the European Union or governments.  Buy the funny-looking produce. Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because they are cosmetically not right, their size, shape, or colours don’t quite match what we think these items “should” look like according to how we have recently been indoctrinated. By and large these items are perfectly good to eat, and buying them at a farmer’s market or non-supermarket  grocery store helps use up food that might otherwise have been put to waste.

  7. Don’t  buy unusual food products without knowing in advance how to cook them.

  8. Avoid fad foods. Just because a particular product is in vogue, only buy it AFTER you have done your research on its value and how you will use and how often.

  9. Stay Mindful! Stick to your plan!

 

At Home

 

  1. Monitor what you throw away. Use a diary to identifywhere you are are wasting food and indulging bad habits. Here is a diary which opens in a new window

  2. Practice FIFO. It stands for First in First Out. When unpacking your shopping, tore newer produce to the back of the fridge/freezer/cupboard.

  3. Record ie take stock. Note the upcoming expiry dates on foods you already have, and plan your meals accordingly. Keep a record of what goes into the freezer and when it needs to be used by. Yes, a bit of a hassle, but it can save money and waste. If a food looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be good to eat not good to go. If any of these elements are off, then it’s time to toss it.

  4. Check the fridge. Make sure it’s functioning effectively. Ensure seals are tight, temperature is effective.

  5. Plan how to use leftovers, indeed designate each meal to creatively using leftovers! You don’t always have to start afresh with new products. Create packed lunches, freeze and save leftovers (remembering to keep a record of what you froze and when.

  6. Value all! Ever just use the broccoli florets and not the stems? Or feel you have to rid potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers of their skins?  Skins and stems often have the best and most nutrients for our bodies.

  7. Gen up on better storage – using airtight containers, freezing, putting in tubs and then into the fridge. (But if you are regularly having to find such space then maybe you are buying too much in the first place!)

  8. Donate what you won’t use. Never going to eat that can of beans? Donate it to a food kitchen before it expires so it can be consumed by someone who needs it. Check out this resource to locate a food bank near you.

 

 

 

Cooking

 

  1. Understand labels: use by – and -  best before  dates are not ‘expiry’ dates or dictates! They only indicate peak freshness.

  2. Recycle and reuse – we all have scraps of meat and veg, rind of citrus fruits, skins of other fruit, that get tossed in the bin when they could be turned into soups, casseroles, stews, or used for thickeners or flavour enhancing

  3. Preserve produce. Produce doesn’t have to be ditched just because it seems not as fresh as it was when bought.  Again -  think soups, smoothies, stews, flavourings, casseroles.

  4. Can it. Got more fruit than you know what to do with? Try canning it so it’ll last for months to come.

  5. Pickle it. Both fruits and vegetables can be easily pickled and can be fun and involve other family members.

 

Eating – ah at last!

 

  1. Make a ritual of the meal. Present it well, even if eating alone, set the table, light the candles, have the flowers, the music, create the atmosphere. switch off TV and eat mindfully. It all makes a difference to the experience of eating and its benefits.

  2. Ensure that what is on the plate, (you still use plates don’t you?) is appealing to the eye but not overfilled.

  3. Consider a little ritual of giving grace. This need not be religious. It is just taking a moment to energetically send out thanks to those involved in the food chain, from the farmer or horticulturalist, from the pickers to the packers, the animals,  the transporters to the sellers. Why not just take a moment to be grateful?

  4. Check in with your belly. Take a moment to ask your body what it wants for this meal to eat, and how much.  Reducing portion sizes is an easy way to reduce food waste, reduce the waist line, and improve your health.

  5. Sharing is caring – especially when eating out. Be prepared to split a dish with a fellow eating comrade! You don’t waste half of the giant portion sizes found at many restaurants.

  6. Leftovers. Americans think nothing of asking for a doggy bag, in fact in some restaurants I’ve been to, they automatically are given out at the end! In Britain we are a bit more retiscent. Nonetheless, consider taking home left overs, and if you eat out regularly and constantly leave food, take your own doggy bag! And reuse the food. Don’t just chuck it in the fridge and forget about it.

  7. Share with others If you make too much food – consider putting it in a container and take it to a neighbour and be honest, I made too much. You’ve avoided waste and they have saved money!

  8. Go trayless. Taking a tray in a café always suggests to my mind that I have to fill it up! So If I am not going to be personally self-willed, I will just do without the tray.

  9. Lead by example. I have a couple of friends who just love the “eat all you can” buffets. Then next day they ring up and moan about their weight, how tired they feel, how depressed they are. Simple – your body is giving you a message. Don’t overeat and don’t eat “non-food!” If I’m with them I will stick to small, healthy-food options and drink water.

 

If it cannot be consumed by you,

 

  • Share it! Have a friend over for a meal

  • Donate it

  • Freeze it

  • Create leftover recipes

  • Feed it to an animal/pet

  • Put it into compost

 

And with each throwaway ask yourself, “How is this helping?"

© 2017,2018,2019,2020 by Andrew Hunter

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