It's a shocking reality to face up to but our food industry generates 3 million tonnes of surplus food each year, whilst 4.7 million adults struggle to afford to eat everyday. This insane statistic needs to be understood further. A lot of people tend to overlook the fact that so much food is wasted even before it reaches our shores. During the transfer of food from the field crop to marketplace, 30% never makes it onto supermarket shelves as a result of deterioration of the food in transit and poor storage and transportation infrastructure in developing countries where a lot of our food comes from. In developing economies, storage capacities are limited and there are problems like buildings that are not adequately sealed to protect them from vermin intrusion.
As consumers we make ridiculous demands about the look and shape of fruit and vegetables and so supermarkets have to set strict standards about the exact shape and size of all sorts of produce which leads to lots of perfectly delicious edible food being rejected. Luckily there are wonderful companies like Rubies in the Rubble that are trying to combat the waste created by the unsustainable and irrational system we've created, They work directly with farmers and will often take the rejects and turn them into amazing condiments.
So much food is wasted by individual consumers and households as well due to poor planning and over purchasing. In the UK the average family throws away 22% of their weekly shop. There's also a lack of knowledge about how best to store food and inertia when it comes to thinking creatively about how to use up leftovers. It's a complicated issue and so many people feel overburdened and stressed in so many other areas of life that it can be difficult to make the time required to ensure food is not wasted at home. We would however like to inspire people to think twice about how they consume and try to end a culture so dominated by excess purchases that lead to so much unnecessary waste.
It's a scary fact to have to come to terms with, but food production is the single biggest impact that humans have on nature. The main reason forests are being chopped down is for agricultural purposes, and food production has by far the biggest use of water and is the biggest cause of soil erosion. We CAN choose to consume and produce food in a way that nurtures nature and allows the rest of the planet to thrive. If you can take the time to think about where your food comes from and perhaps think twice before making certain purchases you will be making a difference.
Here are a few simple tips to reduce food waste on an individual level:
Use the Olio app which connects neighbour to each other to local businessess so surplus food can be shared instead of thrown away.
Avoid bagged salads as they tend to deteriorate faster than buying whole lettuces which can be washed and then you can leave it in the salad spinner after it has spun, place in fridge and it keeps for ages.
Ignore use by and sell by dates. Supermarkets set ultra cautious and unnecessary use by dates- by and large particularly with fruit and veg you can easily judge for yourself.
Remember to freeze perishable food that isn't likely to be used within a short time frame. Even freeze sliced bread you plan to eat during the week and just take out a few slices at a time.
Try to set aside an hour at the weekend to meal plan so you don't over-buy.
freeze brown spotty bananas and save for delicious smoothie recipes
We try hard to create virtually no food waste in our kitchen at Dovebrook. We ensure that any food created during product development and recipe testing is now sent to FareShare Cymru and they are able to distribute these meals to vulnerable people most in need of it.
We make our Seasonal Surplus Tagine using all leftover vegetables we have in our kitchen at the end of each week so you will never get bored of it as it'll change all the time season to season!
(Our Seasonal Surplus Tagine)
Here's one of our favourite food waste fighting recipes- a delicious vegan vegetable frittata. Very easy and incredibly satisfying. Potatoes are one of the most wasted ingredients in the UK and this recipe makes the most of them in such a delicious way.
We also used pepper, aubergine, carrot, mushrooms and courgette because we we had a surplus batch from recipe testing a new lasagne recipe for Dovebrook but you should feel free to use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge- the beauty of this type of recipe is there are no hard and fast rules. Seasonal veg like kale and purple sprouting broccoli would be great substitutions here- just remember certain root vegetables like potatoes, swede or carrots will take a bit longer to cook so you can fry them for longer before adding veg like kale or courgettes.
The egg replacement is a delicious combination of flavours including tofu, mustard, turmeric and mixed dried herbs- proof that you don't need eggs to make a yummy frittata!
Mixed Leftover Vegetable Frittata
2 medium potatoes, diced (feel free to leave skins on)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 aubergine, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
A handful of mushrooms
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
Salt & Pepper to taste
For the tofu 'egg' mix:
450g organic silken tofu (soft or firm), drained (no pressing needed)
70ml unsweetened almond milk
2 heaped tsp cornflour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp mustard or 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp mix of dried tarragon, thyme & basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp pepper (black or white)
Sauté: Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, sauté potatoes or any other root vegetables you are using and cook for 5 minutes, add the onion and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then add the aubergine and carrot, fry for a few minutes and then add the courgette, peppers, mushrooms and garlic, cook until softened. Finally add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tofu egg: In a food processor/blender, combine the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste and add more lemon juice if needed.
Assemble: Add the tofu egg mixture to the pan of cooked veg and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 9 inch round springform tin- you want it to be quite deep so a cake tin works nicely here. Level the top flat with the back of a spatula. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes at 180C (fan).