Reducing food waste: Green Week 2019
What better time than Green Week (23-27 September) to be looking at the ethical and environmental implications of both the food and textile industries?
We caught up with Rhonda Noone - Registered Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutrition on our Food, Nutrition and Textiles Education Degree at Perth College UHI to get some ideas on how we can reduce our food waste and reduce the negative effects of the textile industry on our environment.
As part of their course, my 3rd year students are currently studying a module on contemporary issues in food and textiles.
Take food waste as an example:
Did you know that 1/3 of all food produced globally is wasted? (FAO, 2011). Even at a UK level, this equates to approximately 10.2 million tonnes of food per year. Food waste is responsible not only for the loss excess food, but also the water and energy responsible for growing/harvesting/processing and transporting that food. Food companies need to sort that out, right?
Ah….but did you know that most of this is wasted at the consumer level, around 70%? In your own kitchen? I know that I am guilty of buying lots of salad and fresh fruit with the best of healthy eating intentions, only to see it in the bin at the end of the week. However, with additional planning and preparation, much of this can be avoided. A study by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP, 2016) highlighted that 60% of household food waste could have been avoided by eating food before the appropriate use by date.
spend £200 on?
As shopping savvy students, the additional benefit of reducing food waste is also saving money. Love Food Hate Waste estimate that every person throws away approximately £200 of food per year.
As awareness of the issues increase and retailers are under pressure to reduce their food waste, more opportunities exist to ensure that food waste is re-distributed appropriately.
The food industry are responding to the issue by finding unique ways to use up previously wasted food, for example the company TOAST make beer from the previously wasted “outsiders” of loaves (https://www.toastale.com/ ). Some retailers have also joined the app community to offer reduced price or free food to prevent food waste. Even within communities people are logging on to share their own leftovers/unwanted food. Are you part of the green revolution?
Check the apps
Top tips to reduce food waste
Plan your meals: check your fridge and cupboards before you go shopping. Write a shopping list and stick to it! This is helpful for keeping to a healthy diet too.
Portion control: Carbohydrate based foods like rice and water expand when cooking and it can be difficult to estimate the right portion when raw. Try weighing out the recommended portion on the packet (e.g. 75g dry pasta) to prevent cooking too much.
Storage: check the food label for advice on how best to store foods as some foods are packed in protective packaging and most will advise on whether the food requires refrigeration.
Share the load: plan your meals with family or housemates, it is often easier to cook for two people than one person as food portions can be tricky to buy for one.
Date check: Know the difference between Best Before and Use By. The Use By date is used for food safety and advises the last day that a food is microbiologically safe to eat. Best Before only indicates when a food is at its best for quality, food is still edible after this date.
Freezer food: More food can be frozen than you think! Check the Love Food, Hate Waste website for more information of what foods can be frozen. Consider bananas - one of the most commonly wasted fruits. Slice and freeze and use in smoothies before they turn completely brown.