If you grow your own veg what do you think the chances are of you rejecting a misshapen potato or carrot? Would the effort of your labour find itself thrown into the bin rather than the pot? Probably not so why is it that between 20 and 40% of both fruit and veg produced in the UK end up either sent to landfill (another story, another blog,) used as animal feed or ploughed back into the ground. And wasted food production squanders the water, fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, fuel and land needed to grow it,
Imagine if, as an independent fruit or veg grower furnishing only your own table, you had to grow and then throw 40% of the resulting produce, based on you or your family rejecting it on the grounds of being less than perfect to look at. As a nation we already waste a ridiculous amount of food – 50% – that finds its way onto the supermarket shelves and into our cupboards and fridges. Add to that the stuff that never gets to the market and it seems incredulous that we can’t do better.
Supermarkets would have had us believe it is we, the consumer, that wouldn’t buy anything that isn’t standardised in shape, size and colour? Previous research by one of the big supermarkets then suggested that more than half us would (and now do) consider wonky veg and with a financial incentive, are even more into it.
Step up a couple a famous chef/presenter/TV personality guys and what do you know? Supermarkets decide that they can sell less than perfect looking produce and we the consumers will buy it. Not only that but supermarkets are also making a positive impact on other food waste through charitable food donation, surplus food turned into animal feed and also converted to energy. Wonky veg that doesn’t make it onto the shelves – yes there are still guidelines – can be converted into alternative consumer products such as ready-made mash, juices or even vegetable noodles. Win win for the consumer, the supermarket and the grower.
However there are still 800 million people across the world suffering from hunger and ironically, there’s currently a shortage in the UK of certain foods produced in Spain!
More to be done… Germany has just opened The Good Food, a supermarket that only sells salvaged food waste with no fixed prices so customers pay the amount they think the products are worth. Although the first in Germany, there are other zero waste supermarkets around the globe. The concept is something of a social movement designed to spread awareness of the problems of food waste.
The generations that remember food shortages in the UK and rationing during and after the war, are the last stalwarts of the ‘waste not want not’ approach to food. They won’t be around for ever so we all need to make a difference. Let’s have our own war on waste!