The Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced £15 million government funded strategy to reduce food waste. It is designed to crackdown on waste and improve surplus redistribution to ensue that good food is not wasted.  It should be on people’s plates, not in the bin. 

Locally, we are already onto this agenda as there are some really great charities and initiatives that are dedicated to reducing waste. The Grace Network, Foodbank, Severn View Food, WasteNotStroud and The Nelson Trust among many others (please add local groups and charities in the comments below too as always love more information!) so I am pleased to see that it is getting a boost nationally too. 

I know the government’s Food Surplus and Waste champion, Ben Elliott. He has been making the case to government for years that something needs to be done in this area. A few key facts can easily bring home why this is important: 

* £20bn of food is dumped each year in the UK* British homes waste £500 each per year *  We bin about 4.4m spuds and 1.2m tomatoes every day 
The environmental impact of UK food waste is estimated at 20 million tons of CO2 emissions each year (similar to all the heavy goods vehicles emissions in the UK) for production and disposal. 

I know that many of our local charities have good relationships with the supermarkets in addition to receiving generous donations from people. The supermarkets signed up to the Courtauld 2025 Commitment – which targets a 20% per person reduction of food waste by 2025. I understand from Ben that between 2007 and 2015, food waste in the UK reduced by 13%.

Supermarkets and other businesses will need to drive down food waste from all sources, alongside us making changes at home. 

My husband and I both work long hours and do not waste much food as we do not buy in bulk very often. Looking around the kitchen though, I can see that we can make changes at home and gwad knows what I have stuffed in the freezer!   I noted down a few of the tips from ‘Love Food Hate Waste’, covered in a national newspaper this week.  You lot probably know all of this but see if they are useful. 

1.   Chill the fridge
The average UK fridge is set to severn degrees, which is too high for most foods and will cause them to go off much quicker. Every day we throw away 3.1million glasses of milk, yet keeping your fridge between zero and five degrees can help milk last up to three days longer. 

2. Have a complEAT meal 
On average, UK households throw away the equivalent of 170 potatoes each year. This adds up to 710,000 tons. Of this, the majority is peelings, which are often thrown out due to habit. Try leaving the peel on (i.e. complEAT your potatoes) when you make mash. If you do peel your potatoes, mix the peelings with oil and seasoning, then bake them for 20-25 minutes for home made crisps. 

3. Know the date labels 
There is a difference between best before and use by. Best before refers to quality and use by is about safety.  Don’t panic and how out food that is past its best before. Cook and enjoy it or put it in the freezer any time before its use by date. 

4.  Be storage savvy 
Different foods thrive in different spots, so check the packaging for storage advice. Fruits belong in the fridge, except for bananas and pineapples. Bread and potatoes do well in a cupboard or bread bin – not the fridge – and potatoes and onions should be kept separate so they stay fresh. 

5.  Take a shelfie 
Take a fridge shelfie instead of making lists. This will help you rememberer what you have got in the fridge already when you are at the shop so you don’t come home with duplicates. 

6. Freezer heroes 
We know that meat, pizza and ice cream can be frozen but there may be a few foods that surprise you. Eggs, milk, bread, pasta, cheese – in fact, almost anything can be frozen. 

If you have any top tips to reduce food waste in your home, let me know in the comments below! 

Note: The organisations that have been awarded with funding from the government scheme so far are FareShare, Company Shop Group, The Felix Project and Food Works. 

Picture from when I was serving donated and redistributed food in Chalford for the wonderful Severn View Food. 

Leave a Reply