Want to help stop tonnes of food going into landfill? Get creative and you can be part of the solution
Food waste is a hot topic. Recent figures show that in the UK, we threw away £13 billion of food last year, and the waste and recycling body Wrap says 4.4million tonnes of it could have been eaten. So what should we be doing about it?
They say charity starts at home, so do your bit for this good cause and have a look at what’s in your fridge and larder. “Plan meals around the products which are closest to expiring,” says Egzona Makolli, technical nutritionist at Kinetic Enterprises. “Do this for all the items in the freezer too, make a note of the date each item was frozen to make sure you use them before they pass their prime.” Wise up on the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates – the former is a safety standard – food should not be consumed, or frozen, after this date as it may no longer be safe. Best before is a quality guideline, meaning it’s possible the food may not be of the same standard after this date (although very often it still is) but it is safe to eat.
There are plenty of charitable organisations out there. Get properly involved in a food waste charity and you’ll be helping surplus grub reach the plates of the needy rather than being thrown in the bin. The charity FareShare is always looking for volunteers. It has 20 centres around the UK which save food destined for waste, and redistribute it to charities and community groups that transform it into nutritious meals for vulnerable people. Visit fareshare.org.uk
“Set your fridge to the right temperature,” says Egzona. “Statistics show that around 60-70 percent of our fridges are at high temperatures, so make sure you store food according to the instructions on the pack and do not leave foods like milk, cooked meat or fresh ingredients out of the fridge as this cuts the life of them by up to 100 percent. Make sure you keep it between 1-5°C – this temperature has shown to help you get the best from the food. If yours does not have a temperature monitor, then you may want to invest in a fridge thermometer.”
Chuck anything you don’t eat into a compost heap: “It reduces the amount of rubbish you put out for collection and creates a free, nutritious fertiliser which will help your garden. You are able to compost everything from uncooked vegetables, teabags, eggshells and fruit peelings,” says Egzona. Don’t have a garden, or space for a heap? No problem: “Many local farmers will happily accept food leftovers for adding to a compost heap. Go online to find local farms near you and simply call them to ask if they take these,” she says.
“Use grocery lists and avoid any impulse buys as this makes it less likely you’ll buy any excess food that you don’t need and are unlikely to consume. Buy items only when you have a plan to use them and wait until it’s all gone before buying more. There are many trendy apps which can help you prepare meals in advance and save on food waste. “You can also buy wonky produce – many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because of their shape, size or colour does not match the typical ‘look’. But these items are perfectly good to eat and buying them at your local farmers market or grocery store can help use up the food which might be thrown away otherwise.”
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