Environmental: Food Waste

In our family run business, we are all big lovers of food and drink. With plenty of our clients, being producers, retailers, pubs and restaurants, its an industry we love and enjoy working in, but at times it is hard not to think of food waste. 

In house illustrator, chef and writer, Mary Atherton gives us the low down on how to combat food waste and highlights the great companies doing their bit!

 

Food and Drink Somerset
 

Our household tends to be low on food waste. We eat a mainly plant based diet and as we love leftovers not a lot of it ends up as treats for the hens. All our vegetable peelings go on the compost heap, which is eventually broken down and used as compost on the vegetable patch.

We live in a small rural community where most households have a go at growing their own fruit and vegetables. The biggest glut of the year is usually courgettes followed by apples and the excess of these can be seen in large quantities perched on walls or steps free to any passerby. Even with this level of self-sufficiency and sharing there’s always some excess in larder. For example falling for the buy one get one free offer yet knowing whatever it is it will never get eaten before it goes bad.

Here in Somerset householders separate food waste from general rubbish and this is collected kerbside weekly and taken to an anaerobic digestion plant to make green energy and a compost material to use on farms. This excellent service prevents food waste from ending up in landfill and where it would rot and release deadly methane.

 
 
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SUPPLY & DEMAND

Food waste from a world perspective is a serious issue and no longer considered a fringe concern. In the UK alone £13bn worth of food is wasted every year and contributes to 10% of our yearly greenhouse gas emissions and 76% of that food waste comes from households. 


It is the environmental issue of the moment and is directly linked to world hunger, greenhouse gases and escalating food prices. In global terms the food system affects the health of the planet and drives deforestation, bio-diversity loss and freshwater use. 


800 million people go to bed hungry and each and every one of them could be sufficiently fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in USA, UK and EUROPE. Because we have a globalised food supply system demand for food in the West can drive up the price of food grown for export in developing countries.

Uneaten food wastes land, water, labour, energy, manufacturing, packaging etc and ends up in landfill. It decomposes without access to oxygen and creates methane, which is deadlier than carbon dioxide.


 
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WHAT YOU CAN DO.

In response to this serious matter various organisations have been established in recent times here in the UK and globally to combat food waste in particular.


OLIO is a food -sharing app., which can easily be downloaded on an android phone or iphone. Its aim is to match unwanted food with eager consumers and to establish networks. One of its main successes has been to do away with the perceived stigma attached to food banks and has been instrumental in the breaking down of barriers and enabling social integration. 

FOODCYCLE is an organisation that aims to provide three course meals for people at risk of poverty and social isolation using surplus food


THE CASSEROLE CLUB has volunteers sharing portions of home cooked food with people at risk in the community.

FARESHARE redistributes surplus food to charities that turn it into meals for children’s breakfast clubs, homeless hostels, and lunch clubs for older people and so on.


GO GLEANING gives volunteers, all over the UK, the opportunity to engage with the food system by helping to rescue fresh surplus fruit and vegetables from farms where it would otherwise be wasted. It is then donated to good causes. 
Farmers waste about 16% of their crops because of the irregularity of shape and size, which are rejected by supermarkets. This power of the supermarkets to dictate terms and conditions forces suppliers to waste food through stringent cosmetic specifications. This occurs not only in the UK but also globally anywhere in the food chain. 


So there are lots of opportunities for us to help to reduce the staggering amount of food waste. We can all join the revolution to save our planet by being conscious of our own food purchases and not buying too much, not throwing away because of a date but relying on our sense of smell and taste and we can all join a food-sharing organisation.