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Love Food Hate Waste

21 May 20

by Mika Moriyama

In February, the Salisbury Centre’s Living Lighter project hosted a workshop called Love Food Hate Waste delivered by Changeworks. The session covered the scale of the food waste issue, the impact it has, as well as practical tips to prevent food waste and save money at the same time.

Since then I have been paying closer attention to my food waste, and trying a couple of the things we learnt about prevention and storage. 

I’ve known for a long time that food waste is a huge issue but every time I hear the statistics, I am still shocked! ⅓ of the world’s food is wasted and in Scotland, almost 61% of this waste comes from households. This costs the average household £437 a year, and of course the huge amounts of energy and water that go into the food production, distribution, storage and cooking process are all wasted too. This environmental impact is massive: if we cut out all food waste, the associated reduction in carbon emissions would be the same as if we took 1 in 4 cars off Scotland’s roads. 

So what leads us to waste so much food? Love Food Hate Waste states that it boils down to 4 reasons: 

  1. Not checking our cupboards so we over buy.
  2. Uncertainty about what date labels mean or we don’t keep a check on them.
  3. Over generous portioning ends in leftovers.
  4. Not making full use of our freezers.

There are so many tips and tricks out there for reducing your food waste, and not all of them may be relevant to you. Checking the cupboards and writing grocery lists to avoid overbuying (or forgetting!) was something I did already. And making big portions was something I did intentionally to have a packed lunch for the next day ready to go!

The other two reasons (date labels, freezing) were the ones I needed to work on. Here are my favourite tips I’ve found and tried:

Food date labels

There are 3 types of dates you might see on packaged food: ‘Use by’, ‘Best before’, and ‘Display until’. 

  • ‘Display until’ date: ignore this. This label is used by some retailers to help staff rotate their stock, but has nothing to do with food safety or quality. 
  • ‘Best before’ date: refers to food quality (taste, texture, appearance) rather than food safety. It should be safe to eat beyond the date, but might not be at its best. 
  • ‘Use by’ date: this is the key in terms of food safety. You can eat food up to the end of its ‘use by’ date but not after – even if it looks and smells fine. This label is usually required for foods like raw meat, eggs, milk, and packaged fruit & veg. 

Freezing food

Vegetable scrap stock

When I looked at my food waste bin, most of it was scraps from vegetables: carrot ends, tough stalks from herbs, wilted greens, onion skins, etc. But all of this can be saved and turned into a vegetable stock to use for soups, risotto, and stews.

  1. Start collecting your vegetable scraps in a container in your freezer
  2. When you have a good amount (about 4 cups worth), simmer the scraps in about 2L of water for 1 hour. You can simmer extra vegetables, onion, garlic and/or herbs as well to make it tastier, but not necessary! Add salt to taste. 
  3. Remove solids and portion into containers. You can freeze until you need.

Here’s a more extensive recipe, same principle 🙂

Milk 

Milk is one thing that commonly gets wasted, especially when you only use small amounts for things like tea. Turns out you can freeze milk in its plastic bottle, or freeze small portions in an ice cube tray for tea and coffee. 

Bananas

Freeze overripe bananas and use in smoothies, or to make banana bread. Or blend up frozen banana to make ‘nice cream’ (a list of recipes and combinations is here)! Just make sure you peel bananas before you freeze them.

 

 

 

Breadcrumbs

Baked goods are another commonly wasted food. While you can freeze bread to toast later, if you have let it get too stale, just blitz in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. You can then freeze  in a container until you want to use them for cooking.

 

 

There are my favourite tips but there are so many ways you can prevent food waste. Let us know if you have some other great tips! If you want to explore more about how our food choices affect our carbon footprint, why not come along to the Food session in the ‘What can I do about climate change?’ workshop series we are hosting online on the 4th June? 

Check out Love Food Hate Waste for lots of information, tips, and recipes.

 

Thanks to Love Food Hate Waste for the workshop and content. The Living Lighter project is funded by the Climate Challenge Fund.

Feature image from Unsplash.

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