I AM not a scaremonger, but I do have an inconvenient truth to share with you.
Filling our trolleys, piling our plates and surrendering meals to our bins has created a food waste epidemic.
Getty – Contributor Keep grub out of the garbage and start making a change in your day-to-day lives
Globally, we waste around one third of all food grown. In the UK, ten million tons of grub from homes and businesses is dumped annually — two thirds of which could have been eaten.
That’s £20billion-worth of food wasted in the country every year, costing each home on average £500. This is environ-mental, economic and moral madness.
It’s time for us all to step up to the plate and do our bit. And I intend to expose those who aren’t helping to reduce food waste.
The Government is committed to eliminating food waste to landfill by 2030. I’m starting in my home, with a daily battle to get my children not to waste food.
And yesterday Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced £15million in Government funding to help the private sector redistribute spare food to those in need.
In my role as the Food Surplus and Waste Champion, appointed by Mr Gove last year, I am overseeing the fund to both crackdown on waste and improve surplus redistribution, ensuring that perfectly good food ends up where it belongs — not in the bin but on people’s plates.
We are all in this together and must commit to real change
Four fantastic organisations which redistribute food across the UK have already been awarded with funding from the scheme. They are FareShare, which operates in 1,500 towns, redistribution supermarket chain Company Shop Group, London-based food waste charity The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield.
These organisations are all working on the frontline to get food currently going to waste on to people’s plates. But we are ALL in this together and must commit to real change.
So how can we make a substantial difference in our day-to-day lives?
One excellent place to get practical tips is Love Food Hate Waste, an initiative to raise awareness of food waste by demonstrating easy things we can all do to make a difference, benefiting the environment and our wallets.
Some tips are below.
Six ways you can make a difference
1. Chill the fridge
The average UK fridge is set to seven degrees, which is too high for most foods and will cause them to go off much quicker.
Every day we throw away 3.1million glasses of milk, yet keeping your fridge between zero and five degrees can help milk last up to three days longer.
2. Have a complEAT meal
On average, UK households throw away the equivalent of 170 potatoes each year. This adds up to 710,000 tons. Of this, the majority is peelings, which are often thrown out due to habit.
Try leaving the peel on (in other words – “complEAT” your potatoes) when you make mash. If you do peel your potatoes, mix the peelings with oil and seasoning, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes for home-made crisps.
3. Know the date labels
There is a difference between “best before” and “use by”. “Best before” refers to quality, “use by” is about safety.
Don’t panic and throw out food that is past its “best before”. Cook and enjoy it, or put it in the freezer any time before its “use by” date.
4. Be storage savvy
Different foods thrive in different spots, so check the packaging for storage advice.
Fruits belong in the fridge, except for bananas and pineapples. Bread and potatoes do well in a cupboard or bread bin – not the fridge – and potatoes and onions should be kept separate so they stay fresh.
5. Take a shelfie
Not a fan of lists? Take a fridge shelfie instead. This will help you remember what you’ve got in the fridge already when you’re at the shop, so you don’t come home with duplicates.
6. Freezer heroes
We know that meat, pizza and ice cream can be frozen, but there may be a few foods that surprise you. Eggs, milk, bread, pasta, cheese – in fact, almost anything, can be frozen.
The environmental impact of UK food waste is estimated at 20million tons of CO2 emissions every year. That is similar to all heavy goods vehicles emissions in the UK. This is a combination of the emissions used in the production of that food and emissions associated with its disposal as waste, for example, at landfill.
Other countries are managing to deal with this. Denmark is one of the leading EU countries for tackling food waste.
According to research by its Agriculture and Food Council, Denmark has reduced its food waste by an estimated 25 per cent between 2013 and 2017.
Its government and the not-for-profit Stop Wasting Food run various food waste education campaigns and national certification for the food service sector. They also produce doggy bags for restaurants, encouraging a change to the throwaway culture.
What are British supermarkets doing about this?
All retailers are signed up to the Courtauld 2025 Commitment, which has a target of a 20 per cent per person reduction in UK food waste by 2025.
We produce seven million tons of food waste from our homes every year
Since population growth is likely to affect total food waste at a national level, we track progress and have set this domestic reduction target on a per person basis.
The news is not all bad. Between 2007 and 2015, food waste in the UK has been reduced by around 13 per cent. But we still produce seven million tons of food waste from our homes every year.
A further three million tons comes from businesses such as shops, hospitality and food manufacturers.
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To tackle this, yesterday I hosted a food waste fightback conference, Step Up To The Plate, at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, alongside Mr Gove and V&A director Tristram Hunt.
It brought together major players from the worlds of food retail, hospitality, chefs and social media to promote awareness of food waste and help drive it down from all sources.
We intend for the conference to spark action, not just conversation. We all need to do our bit to tackle food waste, champion change and work towards a waste-less future.
Schoolgirl, 11, creates ‘Alarm Cup’ fruit bowl to help cut UK’s £13billion food waste