Thursday, 3 January 2008

Love Food, Hate Waste

Every blogger has at least one post that's been in draft for months and somehow never quite been published. Well, here's mine. I started to write something about Love Food, Hate Waste back in early November when the campaign was launched. Since then I've read some excellent commentary about it, in particular on my favourite food information blogs Eating Britain and Mostly Eating.

What triggered me to dig this piece out and dust it off was my increasing personal focus on the re-use of food waste through my job here at Comerç 24. A while back I wrote in Working With Foodies about how absolutely no food in our restaurant kitchen ever goes to waste. Rewriting some of these thoughts for a piece that I hope will shortly appear in Word Of Mouth reminded me just how important an issue this is - hence this post.

Love Food, Hate WasteLove Food, Hate Waste is a campaign by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) aimed at achieving a significant reduction in food waste in the UK. WRAP is a not-for-profit company created as part of the British government's waste strategy to help develop markets for waste products, provide advisory services to local authorities and influence public behaviour through communication campaigns.

According to the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, around a third of all the food we buy in the markets, shops and supermarkets ends up being thrown away. The vast majority of this food could have been eaten.

In the UK we throw away an estimated 6.7m tonnes of food each year, although few people realise just how much food goes to waste. Not only is the amount of food we throw away a disgrace when millions of people around the world go hungry - it is also a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases.

The mounting piles of edible waste have even given rise to a new political movement, with the emergence of "freegans", who salvage discarded food by "dumpster diving" and consume it comunally, under the slogan "free unless it's vegan". To learn more about this radical way of life, take a look at this video clip. It's not a new idea. Over 20 years ago, the late great Juzo Itami portrayed something very similar in his fantastic film Tampopo, in which a community of Japanese epicurean vagrants rescue and recycle gourmet food from hotel kitchen rubbish bins.

I'm not normally one to plug government campaigns, but Love Food, Hate Waste is one that it would be hard not to promote and fully support. Especially with a video promo clip like the one on their website. Backed by loads of chefs including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Michel Roux Jr, Gary Rhodes, Ken Hom, Ainsley Harrriot, Brian Turner, Nick Nairn, Richard Corrigan and Rose Gray, the campaign includes information on recipes for leftovers - an aspect of cooking that I'm particularly keen on. I've already added my own message of support on their website. Why don't you join me?


Sophie said...

I think the Love Food Hate Waste site is fab (as you know), though I'm secretly a bit disappointed that they haven't added the tool ideas that I sent to them (I'll have to email them and take them to task about that!).

Is food waste something that is in the news much in Spain? I have a feeling that countries with more of a cooking/food culture are probably more creative with their leftovers (as well as cooking more from scratch).

p.s Many congratulations on the one year contract - I just read the news!

Pete said...

For me, retailers and food producers, particularly in the FMCG sector have to take some responsibility and enable consumers to buy smaller quantities.

According to the 2001 census taken some years ago now, over 30% of households in the UK are occupied by people living on their own and the trend is on the increase.

How often have you wanted to buy an ingredient but been forced to purchase way more than you wanted only to throw most of it away when it gets past its best before date?

Spices sit in jars for years, bottles of vinegars and condiments clutter cupboards without being touched.

But of course profitability lies in volume and Tesco and the other multiples are unlikely to devote shelf space to single serve portions at the expense of other items.

I'd love to see it happen though and they could maybe trial it in places like Sainsburys Local or Tesco Metro which serve urban areas populated by single dwellers.

Sarah-82 said...

I remember watching a clip on the F Word where Giles Coren goes hunting through bins in Central London. It is unbelievable what people throw away. As a student I worked in a sandwich bar. I would walk home and on route give homeless people sandwiches that would have otherwise gone in the waste (either that or they would go to my poor student friends!)- Why can't schemes like this be set up?

Largely cooking for myself I try not to shop in supermarkets as you are inevitably forced to buy packaged fruit and vegetables in large quantities. Personally I don't enjoy eating the same thing for days on the trot- but I also hate waste! I am lucky to live where I have access to independent shops where I can buy on a day by day basis.

Helen (Food Stories) said...

I couldn't agree with you more Trig. This is an issue that I feel really strongly about, and I think that part of the problem is that people just don't know how to cook, feel they don't have the time or the inclination. People don't know what to do with their leftovers and so they throw them away.....I go the opposite way and I never throw anything away - but then obviously, I love to cook! Bones to make stock, parmesan rinds in the freezer ready to go in soups, next to bags of breadcrumbs from stale bread ready for fishcakes and the like......

lindy said...

Bravo- an issue close to my heart. I have chimed in- even though the site is really only meant for people in the UK, I think.
And I'm with you on the leftovers issue, Trig. I think many of the wonderful traditional dishes of so many food cultures began with a desire to make the very most of limited resources.
While the "eat local" and biodiversity issues that many fellow foodies stress are very important to sustainability, the curtailing of waste is just as important, and less often noted.
Good job.

dan said...

Trig, we had a guy work with us over Christmas who did a lot of scavenging. Old vegetables from the shop. The hard/salty/smokey pellicle from our salmon and even pancetta from the floor all went home with him.

I love cooking leftovers but I will never buy (or take) veg that has gone over or stuff that has fallen on the floor and been trodden on.

Jeena said...

Hi there you have such a lovely blog. I have a blog also here is my link ...

Let me know if you would like to exchange links. Thanks Jeena x

ros said...

This sounds like a very worthwhile cause. In addition to what the others have said, I'd like to see better education about how to tell the difference between food being past its use-by date and being unusable. They definitely aren't the same thing.

My parents throw away lots of stuff because its past its use-by date when it is in fact perfectly ok. I salvage what I can when I'm there but that's only once every few months. I'm sure they aren't the only ones!

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