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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Food Waste and resolving our complacency with the wasted food mountain.

The food waste issue is mentioned in the UK mass media again – it is something we all face on a regular basis. This time the emphasis is upon the calls for supermarkets to end their BOGOF deals in the interest of reducing the millions of tonnes of food waste.

The BOGOF deals (Buy One – Get One Free) psychologically primes us that we are making great savings when we are out shopping and doubling our purchases for prospectively half the price of costs ….. yet the reality is the food will not be eaten quickly enough and will go off and inevitably end up in the compost bin/black bin.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves: Do I really need to buy this? Or is it an issue of people believing that food is useless once it hits the expiry date? Can we risk keeping food an extra day or two for consumption after the expiry date?

The different sources of information may not always be consistent with each other – yet it is plausible that ten’s of thousands of tonnes of food is wasted each year (by many countries).

What can we do to reduce this waste stream contributor?

Grow your own:
Is it possible that growing your own food will give us a new found respect for food? Understanding the cycle, the process, the responsibility or growing it, harvesting and eating it?

Home Composting:
Is it not a cop-out to just assume “It’s okay – we can throw it in the composting bin?” It’s a more benign manner to dispose of excessive/expired food stuffs.

Composting is important – in fact: it is critical to return the nutrients to our soils. Yet it should not be abused! The more localised the composting can be done with zero to few miles travelled - If composting was fully comprehensive (where primarily some composting is done on-site of the domestic home, the restaurant, the office place, the college campus etc. then excessive amounts were picked up by council services) then it can be an even more sustainable process for us to support (than sending it long distance to be composted elsewhere.)

Yet to reiterate: please do not abuse composting as a fall-back just as we become more complacent with our fridges food stock.
Food Banks:
Again – an important part of society; these social enterprises have risen up in a post-economic downturn era to support record numbers of families and individuals who have been forced into economically compromising conditions. Yet we should not just abuse Food Banks strained resources by piling on food which we should ourselves not be wasting – as if it goes off whilst Food Banks are trying to distribute them; it is hardly fair on that social enterprise nor the desperate end recipients.
A constant burning food torch:
What we need is a constant reminder; posters may be an idea? Yet will become an irritation until ignored …. perhaps community mass composters? Or will we get more complacent with these? Any ideas? Local food growing programmes where everyone gets involved to remind us of how precious food is and how many of us may take it for granted as being on tap? For now all we can hope for is the media keep reminding us periodically … yet we need something else in play.
What can you do?