What a waste!

Did you know that 6.4 millions tonnes of edible food is wasted each year in the UK?

In fact, the average family could save over £730 a year, if it stopped wasting food.

In a recent member lecture, professional and private chef and Hubbub environmental campaigner, Mark Breen, shared these stunning facts whilst demonstrating how to rustle up a delicious seasonal meal.

But what are the ten most wasted foods in the UK?

  1. Potatoes
  2. Bread
  3. Milk
  4. Meals (pre-prepared or left overs)
  5. Fizzy drinks (we assume left open)
  6. Pork/ham/bacon
  7. Poultry
  8. Carrots
  9. Chips/processed potato
  10. Bananas

I am sure you recognise some of these! However, our mouldy onion featured didn’t quite make the list, which simply demonstrates the scale of the problem.

When asked what we could do about this, Mark has two answers. First, learn how to store your food better and, second, diversify your cooking.

Mark and Hubbub have been working with the big supermarkets to raise awareness of how you can store foods better. Simple tips, known by many are surprisingly unknown by others. For example, here’s a few:

  • Keep bananas separate from other fruit to keep it from ripening too quickly. Banana stands aren’t just for looks, but to make this happen (we always wondered).
  • Store salad in its original packaging in the fridge.
  • Keep basil leaves out of the fridge so they don’t go black.
  • Buy whole spices and grind them when you need them to keep them fresh.

But also, don’t clutter your fridge with onions – they keep better in a cupboard. If you have simple tips like these, don’t assume everyone knows. Make it a priority to share them – and we will get that waste level down.

Find out more – here.

Pickle it!

The art of preserving also should be rejuvenated. We can thank many a MasterChef professional contestant for including a pickled radish to show how pickled food has an elevated space beyond beetroot and cheddar sandwiches. But how many people know how to pickle? One to google if you don’t…

We can learn much from different cultures who preserve in different ways, with salt and spices across Nordic territories and Asia, and we all love Italian peppers, tomatoes and artichokes preserved in oils.

Variety is the spice of life

So if you aim to waste less food, buying less can be part of the answer, but supermarkets often package their food in portions too large for us to use or to keep prices low. A simple answer to this can be taking a Sunday afternoon to batch cook ready to freeze portions for future weeks. Many meals such as pasta sauces, chilli and Bolognese work well, for example.

An alternative is too look for different spices to jazz up the same ingredients for a couple of days on the trot, like cumin, coriander or a simple curry powder. Alternatively you can keep some herbs on your windowsill to add a new flavour – thyme, chives, basil or rosemary are great for this.

But, Mark wants us to go further than this. He wishes us to eat seasonal to keep costs down and to be more environmentally friendly. Just look where your green beans are coming from – Kenya? Or your Strawberries – from Spain? Think of the air miles, the energy that’s gone into heating the glass houses, the packaging and chemicals involved in getting them to you. Find out more – here.

So, whilst wasting less is important, perhaps we need to think of our eating habits in the round to preserve our planet for future generations?

Find out more about Hubbub here – www.hubbub.org.uk

Contact Mark here – www.seasonalkitchen.co.uk

Feeling inspired?

Join WEA as a member for £15 a year to enjoy our weekly online lectures, which includes an archive of almost 50 lectures (one featuring Mark at Hubbub!).

Learn more by clicking here.