Reducing waste one crooked carrot at a time.
As consumers, we all want the top crop; the best of the best. Whether it’s food or fashion, homes or holidays. All industries have their own unique and significant impact on our Earth. However, food waste is one of the key environmental issues of our generation. Both domestically and commercially, only the freshest and most shapely fruit and vegetables make it to our plates.
But what is done with the produce that doesn’t quite make the cut? Busy mums and dads do a Sunday shop, filling their carts with fresh fruit and good intentions. But as the week creeps by, there comes a point where neglected veg starts to lose its lustre, and limp lettuce and wrinkled radishes are doomed to decompose in the bottom drawer.
Each night in the UK’s 86,000 restaurants, chefs prep complex menus, hoping to attract the best possible turnout. But what if demand doesn’t meet supply? Mother nature's most wholesome creations end up tossed in the bin! And it’s not just about the missed opportunity to convert produce into profit - when we waste food, we’re also wasting all the resources that went into growing it.
Food Waste Problems
It takes a lot of energy to grow a crop, and almost half of all food produced globally is never eaten. The value of this wasted food is over £750 billion annually. When this food is deemed unusable by us, the consumers, and we throw it away to landfill, where it produces methane while breaking down. Methane is a potent gas, created primarily by humans, that takes part in causing the greenhouse effect. It is one of the most abundant and dangerous of all the greenhouse gases; methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2.
The Food Foundation estimates that half of all households in the UK can't afford to follow the nutrition guidelines. When you think of how many people are going without, it doesn’t make sense to throw usable food away. Next time you decide that your two day old bread is no longer worthy of becoming your buttered toast… make breadcrumbs! There is a multitude of uses for your offcuts and ageing produce. Freeze those berries and make jam, chutney, pickles… the world is your oyster when it comes to preserving fruit and veg.
Grow Your Own
There’s nothing more satisfying than a crop that you harvested from your own garden. And you don’t need a huge back yard to rear some fruit and veg. Pot potatoes, kitchen herbs, salad leaves and beans are easily grown in the UK for a nutritious, sustainable crop. An entire meal homegrown. You can even use your organic veggie peels and offcuts for delicious stocks for the base of flavoursome soups and stews.
Community Produce Swap
Living in the age of social media, we have the world wide web (and our local community) at our fingertips. Sharing groups where you can swap and trade your home-grown, garden crops are increasing in popularity. Wouldn’t you rather trade a bunch of parsley from your back yard for 6 of your neighbour’s home grown spuds, instead of letting your crop go to waste while paying £2 for a plastic bag of tatties at the supermarket? Check Facebook and see if your local area has a produce swap group, and if it doesn’t, why not start one!
Many of the bigger supermarket chains have hyper stringent rules which stop their saleable produce from being even slightly misshapen, discoloured or oddly sized. Um… Last time I checked it was normal for everyone to come in different shapes and sizes? So why must our veg conform to such strict beauty standards?! As long as it tastes delicious, who gives a shallot if your onion isn’t perfectly round. The good news is, many independent grocers and even some supermarkets are now flying the flag for uniqueness by selling wonky veg at reduced prices.
The Bottom Line
We all know that buying seasonal food that is locally produced can help reduce carbon emissions - but let’s take it one step further! Embrace an ugly orange root that may not look like the Naomi Campbell of carrots, but tastes just as delicious and delivers the same nutritional value. By rescuing crooked leaks and horizontally challenged cucumbers, you can save money and reduce waste at the same time! Wouldn’t Sir David be proud?