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The Waste Land


After a couple of weeks putting a bit of a spoiler on charitable events, let's turn this week to something right up our street. Let's talk, belatedly, about the UK's first Food Waste Action Week that ran from 1st to 7th March.

Of course, food waste is hardly news to us, but nevertheless, we like these designated days, or weeks, as they give us a great opportunity to raise awareness of the climate crisis (and, thankfully this one does not involve the commercial pressure we have been highlighting recently). We took some time to look over the available information and were impressed with what we found. We even found a few new ideas.



Let's start with the scary part:

  • UK homes throw away 6.6 million tonnes of food a year

  • that's about eight meals' worth of food per household EVERY WEEK

  • if every UK household produced no food waste for one day, it would have the same environmental impact as planting 640,000 trees


Let's get a bit more detail of what is thrown away EVERY DAY:

  • 4.4 million potatoes

  • 20 million slices of bread

  • 3.1 million glasses of milk

  • 720,000 oranges


Remember this is just in the UK.


Has that got you thinking about how you might reduce your own food waste?


Maybe we need a quick reminder here about why food waste is so catastrophic for our environment? Any food that ends up in landfill turns into methane, you've probably heard of that one! It's one of the most damaging of the greenhouse gases we are seeking to eliminate.



Remember also that food is a precious resource. We should never be casually binning it.



Food Waste Action Week champion, TV cook Nadiya Hussain, said, "Stopping food waste is about learning and adapting. If we each make small changes, we'd dramatically reduce the amount of food that ends up in the bin."


Absolutely!


She spoke of the need to

  • avoid buying too much

  • avoid preparing too much

  • store food correctly

  • organise your fridge so you can see what food is actually in there


And her top tips?

  • turn spare rice into egg fried rice by adding spring onions and soy sauce

  • toast old bread, or whizz it into breadcrumbs and pop in the freezer

  • if you do find a sad bag of salad leaves at the back of the fridge, put them in a blender with a handful of cashew nuts, olive oil, garlic and any fresh herbs to make a pesto

  • freeze slices of banana then, later, you can put them in a blender with a bit of maple syrup and peanut butter to make instance ice cream

  • mix spare milk with strong black coffee and put into ice trays to retrieve later for iced coffee


And our favourite?


  • shred banana skins with a knife and flash-fry with onions and barbecue sauce, then serve on a burger bun, topped with grilled cheese


Did you notice that the freezer was mentioned many times? It really is the ideal way to save food nearing its use-by date rather than throwing it away. You can freeze pretty much anything, and don't be put off by small amounts. A leftover single portion will make a perfect ready meal for one.


Who cares if each person round the table is eating a different meal for one occasionally?


Here's another tip we picked up. Instead of putting her vegetable peelings into the food bin, Nadiya adds hers to a bag in the freezer. Each fortnight she takes out all her peelings, puts them in a big pot with loads of stock, onion, garlic, ginger and spice then cooks it all down until she has a delicious soup.


If you follow any of these ideas, then you must also follow Nadya's advice to give yourself a pat on the back and say, "Hey, I made something delicious with what could have gone in the bin."



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Gate Church International SCIO is a charity registered in Scotland.
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