How to Change the Way You Shop For Food
Food, glorious food. We love food, don’t we? In the Western world, we can generally have food whenever we desire...and choose from a dizzying array of choices. We spend hundreds of pounds every week on food, much of it pre-prepared and ready for our convenience. We don’t really have to make much of an effort at all to cook and enjoy the foods we love. Simple.
Image: Pete Owens
However, in 2015, £13bn worth of food was wasted. Food that could have been eaten. This is the equivalent of 7.3 tonnes of food. Incidentally, that is an increase since 2012, when it was 7 tonnes. Around 4 tonnes of this waste is food that could have been eaten, that hadn’t been spoiled (WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).
Why as a nation are we wasting so much food? Surely that’s the same as throwing money into the bin? Think about it for a second. Would you throw £470 a year straight into your bin? When we waste food that’s essentially what we;re doing. It also has a negative impact on the environment. The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign highlights how important it is to keep our food out of landfill. Firstly to conserve space but also to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Organic materials such as food in landfills are broken down to produce methane. This greenhouse gas is incredibly potent, more so than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.
In the words of a recent BBC report: “socially, it is a scandal that people are going hungry and using food banks when so much produce is being wasted”. Around 8.4 million families struggle to feed their families. This is the equivalent of London’s population.
If you're looking for some ideas to help you salvage food from your Brabantia, the below are some great ways to get started:
Menu planning. Sit down and write out a menu for the week. I like to do this when I’m writing my shopping list so the ingredients don’t get missed. If I need a pepper for my fajitas and I already have one in the fridge, then great, I don’t need to buy another one. Recently this has really helped me buy less meat, all of which now gets consumed. This can also help us to eat less processed and ready meals. If we can get back to home cooking from scratch, our health and diets can be better. A great way to buy only the foods we need is to buy loose fruit and veg and if you can, find a farmers market or farm shop that sells organic produce.
Image: Glenn Carstens Stevens
Know the difference between ‘‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. A use by date tells you when the food is likely to spoil, become inedible and be potentially detrimental to your health if consumed. A best before date gives guidance as to when a product will pass its best. After this date the food can still be consumed. There is talk of discontinuing the use of best before dates. Knowing the difference between these can reduce the amount of wastage dramatically.
Stock rotation. Most food retailers do this and it’s a good habit to get into at home. Bring to the front of the shelves and cupboards the food that needs to be used first. This goes for fresh and canned/long life food. Food retailers will sell off food with short use by/best before date at a lower price. But only buy them if you’re going to use them. They’re not a bargain if they end up in the bin’.
Composting and food recycling. Many councils now provide houses with a garden waste bin. This also can be used for food waste. There’s always going to be a little bit of food waste but better it get sent to the appropriate places for compost. If you have your own compost bin then use it well and make your own mulch for your garden.
Eating out - share a dish. As a nation, as a society we often consume far more food than we need. Think about sharing a meal when you eat out. If a main meal isn’t enough for two, have a starter as well, but share it.
Image: Igor Miske
- Be careful of 'Buy One, Get One Free' deals. It’s really easy to think you’re getting a great deal, but these kind of deals often encourage you to buy food you may not normally eat. There are times when perhaps they come in handy, but ultimately you end up with more food on your hands than you need. This often leads to waste of food and money.
There are so many more great ideas out there on how to combat food wastage and helping the environment in the process. These are just a small few. It would be great to hear your ideas on how you keep your food waste to a minimum. Please leave us a comment with yours.
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Written by Angela Hunt for Grace & Green
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