After last week's news about Riverford stepping to save a potato harvest rejected by a supermarket, I thought I'd explore a little further.
It's estimated that 3.6M of tons of produce is wasted before it even leaves the farm, largely due to the inflexible contracts and impossible cosmetic standards imposed by the supermarkets. So why do farmers put up with this? They have little choice- the biggest 9 supermarkets in the UK have a 94.6% share of the grocery market.
I know I'm always banging on about buying into a veg box scheme (here's an idea of the best ones) but they generally:
1. Pay the farmer a fair price for produce
2. Sell what the farmer grows, not what the consumer demands (we're not really ok with this in developed countries where choice is everything)
3. Ensure the farmer does not have to overproduce (protecting the soil, keeping the price at a decent level, reducing waste)
Stir It Up is in its infancy, but my dream is to inspire local would-be farmers to set up knowing they have a route to market in us.But it's not just the supermarkets that are a bit naughty, 6.7M tons (70% of all edible waste) is thrown away at home, adding up to an eye-watering £500 per family that's literally gone in the bin, not to mention the impact of methane production the rotting food causes.
How to avoid it?
Here are my totally unscientific, works for me kind of suggestions (I waste almost nothing- a bowlful of salad was chucked this week and it very nearly reduced me to tears)
1. Don't buy too much in the first place
Sounds obvious, but it's kinda the reason isn't it?
don't have an enormous fridge- you'll buy more and waste more
shop online- you buy less. I routinely spend 3x more in store than I do online
always buy less than you think you need. Most of us have shops nearby and there are more 15 min supermarket delivery services than you can shake a stick at so there's really no excuse
2. Buy with meals in mind- have a few ideas of what you're going to cook before you shop. It rarely works out 100% of the time, but it's a start.
3. Only ever have one bag of leafy greens at any one time, and be sure you have an idea to use them within 2 days of purchase. Ditto mushrooms. Most roots last a very long time. I've eaten swede older than my children.
4. Storage- as SOON as you get your lettuce home, wash it, dry it and rehome it in a tub lined with paper towel- it will last for longer than you think. Stick herbs in water. Lemons and limes in the fridge. Be rational with best by/use by dates- if it smells ok, it's probably ok.
5. Use leftover rice for Nasi Goreng, in a little fritter or to pad out a soup. Cooked pasta (or rice) is tomorrow's healthy salad (cubes of cheese, ham, cucumber, pepper etc with a bit of mayo). Chop up fruit to be frozen for a smoothie- this also works for cooked spinach, avocado and leftover coconut milk. If a lettuce is too limp to love, cook it gently in some stock and butter, add peas and you've got a delicious side (thanks Kate x)
Until next time.. Jacquie x