At this time of the year it is waste not waist that weighs heavily with me. Whilst everyone is obsessed with a dieting regime I am actually feeling guilty about throwing food away. So I was dismayed to read the statistics in the new Global Food: Waste Not Want Not Report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Apparently up to 50% of all food produced never reaches a human stomach.
Poor practices in food harvesting and storage are blamed. A lot is our fault too. Of the £10.2 billion-worth of food thrown away by UK homes each year £1 billion-worth is still edible.
It seems that we do not value our food. Prices also do not reflect food's actual environmental impact. Vast quantities of oil and chemical resources are used for transportation and fertilizers. I had no idea that 15,415 litres of water are needed to produce a kilo of beef, and producing one 250ml glass of milk needs an unbelievable 255 litres of water.
So how can we reduce all this newly acquired guilt? Well, just having an informed and sensible approach to food should do the trick.
First, buy only what you will eat. This is is especially true of meat (and in particular beef). Be realistic. Don't fall for the buy-2-get-1-free offers you will never use. Pride yourself on good logistics.
And what of the food lurking in your fridge that is a bit tired and creeping (I hope not literally) to the wrong side of its sell-by-date? How can this be used? Easy, step 2: invest in a pressure cooker. It may sound a quirky but I can assure you it is transformational.
Use it to create delicious stews, ragus and soups from left-overs, and slightly dubious veggies and meat. Cooking with pressure means that the cooking temperature reached is high. You know that the food is properly cooked through and the pressure also tenderises the food to become melt-in-the-mouth.
A pressure cooker is incredibly quick too. Cooking times for a stew or a bolognese sauce are cut to a mere 4-6 mins (on a low heat) rather than the usual 35-60 mins. This is a big plus, cutting your energy costs too.
Having followed steps 1 and 2, step 3 is simple. Eat up and enjoy with relish. This is guilt-free food. You have a slimmer bin, a fatter wallet and a less depleted planet.
If you want to take one further action then sign-up here to campaign for not wasting the food that has to go in the bin. Some can feed farm animals and the rest can go for composting and anaerobic digestion to produce heat and gas.
Annabella Macris, Volunteer
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