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International Day of Food Loss and Waste– 29th September

While 828 million people suffer from hunger 1.3bn tonnes of food is wasted each year.2 Is it my responsibility to worry about what to do about it? I remember as a child my Mum telling me to eat my dinner as there were starving children in Africa. I also have vivid recollection of the Band Aid Concert in 1985. It seems that little has changed over the last 40 years.   

According to the UN, Food loss and waste account for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions1.  17% of food is wasted by consumers. Do you throw away the whole apple if it is slightly bruised on one side. Do we reject the carrot for its funny shape. Do you immediately throw away a packet as soon as it hits the best before date or even if it’s a few days away “just in case”? While I’m not suggesting that we put our health at risk by eating food that has gone bad, how do we ensure that it gets used before it does?   

I know I should bring a packed lunch to work but don’t always feel inclined to eat it once I get there and the call of “Feed street food” hits my ears!  The soggy sandwich just doesn’t have the same appeal!  

What can we do to reduce our impact while supporting local farmers and shop keepers? 

  • Have a plan for what you’re going to eat over the next few days and be realistic with your expectations. If you’ve had a busy day at work or college, are you really going to chop all that veg for a stir fry? – do you have capacity to meal prep? 
  • Make sure that you check the use by/best before dates on products and eat those close to the dates first. (I often have a plan for the week but sometimes mix it up as the chicken is close to its use by date) Use by mean – eat it before that date as the average product packed in this way will go off by that date. Best before – means that it will be better if you eat it before that date, but it won’t harm you if you eat it after (do check for mould or decomposition)  
  • Make a shopping list; check your store cupboards and fridge/freezer before buying more food. 
  • Have an “eat up day” once a week/once a month where you make a meal with leftovers from the fridge/freezer or cupboard.  
  • Where possible buy local in season fruits and vegetables.  
  • Eat wonky fruit and vegetables – Cut off the bad bits of the apple rather than throwing the whole fruit out.