In 2016 the Food Standards Agency did a survey of food waste across the whole of the UK. Their conclusions showed that ‘‘The UK throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. Wasting this food costs the average household in the UK £470 a year’’. More shockingly The Guardian estimated in 2016 that in America 50% of all food is thrown away. That’s a staggering amount of food wastage and is not contributing to sustainability.
Typically, in our house we have very little food waste as we have the resources at home to deal with food waste in a sustainable manner. But I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks that we do which could easily be implemented into your own homes.
We pick our fruit and freeze them. Every year our fruit bushes outside are picked and preened. We pick raspberries, apples, gooseberries, pears and loganberries once they’re picked we rinse them out and clean them and take a bowl of each to use as fresh produce. The rest of them we pop into freezer bags. The best thing about small fruits is how easy they are to freeze, so that when you want to pull some out to pop in a smoothie or to make a crumble with they’re at hand and take no separating. Just grab the bag out pour some out and pop the rest back into the freezer. With fruits try to lay them flat in the freezer – this just helps them freeze in small if any lumps so you don’t have to dissect them to get some out.
We also freeze our vegetables out of garden. They take a little more preparation, but it still works effectively. We generally dice our vegetables up before we freeze them, so beans we chop into inch sections then pop them into freezer bags. We also chop up parsnips and potatoes and freeze them. Believe it or not you can also freeze tomatoes. To do this score the skin of the tomatoes and put them into boiling water for a minute or two then plunge them into cold water which makes the skin peel. By taking the skin off them before we freeze them the structure of the tomato survives and the skin which doesn’t defrost very well has been removed.
We also make an incredible amount of soup from our vegetables which we also freeze in Tupperware. They are the perfect portion size for lunch and easy food to take out of the door with you. The benefit of freezing all our food means we lock in all the nutrition and vitamins which they hold. Make sure you label the soup it can all look the same once it’s frozen.
Our waste from peeling vegetables goes outside to be eaten by our chickens and geese. With fruit waste we pop it in bowls to put out for the birds. We also pop lard out for the birds, sometimes we mix seeds into it too which they love to eat in winter when the pickings are sparse. It’s also a great way of getting more bird activity in the garden which is a joy to watch.
Any other decomposable waste goes onto the compost heap, which we then use to nourish the land for the next year of growing. I appreciate that not everyone has the resources that we have but if you ask around others may have compost heaps or chickens who would love vegetable peelings. As for other basics, we freeze milk, bread and meat. Which is great for when the last of the toast has been used, just defrost and it’s good to go like a normal fresh loaf. All the things in your freezer will last for at least a year and a half so there’s no need to worry and it’s also great for the purse strings. If you’re in the shops and see products with a short shelf life buy and freeze them. Then you can defrost when you’re ready to eat.
As far as I can see, sustainability is the only way to look forward in what we are doing. This is part of a much bigger problem as the world population continues to grow.