For Stop Food Waste Day on the 27th of April, Elliot Allison, the sustainability lead at Hawkes, London’s first urban cidery, has shared with us his guide to reducing food waste at home.
Wastage is an all too common problem. Worldwide far too much is being discarded that is perfectly usable, and one thing regularly being thrown away without a second thought is food. To highlight just how wasteful people are when it comes to food, Josh Jackman, Senior Writer at theecoexperts.co.uk, wrote that globally, one-third of all food goes to waste, and just the UK alone throws away a ridiculous 9.52 million tonnes of food every year.
However, if there is any light at the end of the tunnel for the UK’s “waster’s”, it’s the rise in the cost of living. With food prices seemingly rising every week, many Brits are making every penny count. They’re reducing what they consume, making food go further, which will inevitably help to reduce what is being thrown away.
“Over a third of all food produced globally goes to waste,” says Elliot, “with the UK contribution around 9.5 million tonnes every year at a value of over £19 billion. It is a monumental waste of money and contributes to more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.
“We’re all trying our best to do what we can to protect the environment – and in the current climate, our purse strings too – but many don’t realise that one of the simplest and easiest ways we can help is by reducing food waste at home. And far from being difficult, it’s all about planning, shopping more mindfully, and getting creative with any potential waste.”
As the lead at an urban cidery turning waste apples into liquid apply goodness, Elliot’s work at Hawkes is all about addressing the issue of food waste. Hawkes’ annual drive for apple donations in collaboration with The Orchard Project allows the cidery to turn ‘waste’ apples from urban orchards into planet-friendly cider in the capital. Hawkes’ 2021 apple drive saw them save over 130,000 apples that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Read on for Elliot’s guide to reducing food waste at home:
Plan your meals for the week. Make a list and buy accordingly instead of wandering around the supermarket grabbing whatever takes your fancy. And avoid going shopping when you’re hungry as you’ll inevitably be tempted to buy lots of extras that you don’t really need!
Meal planning will save you money and help reduce the likelihood of you overbuying and needing to throw anything away.
Check use-by dates
It’s important to check the use-by dates of any fresh produce. If you know you aren’t going to cook with an ingredient until later in the week, either buy it fresh and freeze it or hold off purchasing until you are ready to cook with it. And don’t be afraid to return items delivered to your doorstep with a shorter than expected shelf life if it means you’ll likely end up throwing them away.
Whilst eating foods based on seasons doesn’t directly help mitigate food waste, it is much better for the environment. Buying out-of-season produce means flying it in from overseas or using intensive farming methods with ripening agents, pesticides, and heat processes to force them to grow year-round, using huge amounts of natural resources, contaminating our food with chemicals, and generating enormous carbon footprints.
Out of season foodstuffs will likely cost more and generally lack nutritional value and flavour.
Our favourite time of year is when the apples start falling from their trees, but if you’re unsure about what’s in season and when, there’s an abundance of free online resources which you can use to guide you. You could even create a wall chart outlining what’s in season each month, which can be referred to when writing your shopping list.
Fridge generated food waste
The ideal temperature for your fridge is between 0-5°C; if it’s warmer than this, food will go off much quicker, especially meat and dairy produce. So, this may well be the issue if you find that milk and yoghurts are going off much sooner than they ought to. And remember that some foods – bread, bananas, pineapples, potatoes, squash, onions – keep better outside the fridge.
Hydrate your veg
Faced with a fridge full of floppy veg? We’ve all been there. Most people probably don’t realise that by placing carrots, celery, asparagus and broccoli in a glass of water, you can rehydrate them, staying fresh and crunchier for longer.
Make friends with your freezer
There is a common assumption that frozen produce is less nutrient-dense than fresh, but this is not the case. Instead of throwing away fresh fruit or veg nearing the end of its shelf life, consider prepping and freezing instead.
Blackening bananas, grapes, berries and chopped tropical fruits all freeze well. When it comes to bananas, remove the skin and halve before storing them in a freezer-friendly reusable container. Frozen fruit can be used to make delicious smoothies, homemade ice creams and fruit bowls or added to breakfasts like overnight oats and left to defrost overnight. Apples can be pureed into a sauce, ready to be defrosted as needed and added to porridge or yoghurt at breakfast time or served with the Sunday roast.
Similarly, fresh spinach, kale and tomatoes can all be frozen, ready to add to sauces, curries, soups and stews.
Measure portion sizes
Take away the guesswork, save money and reduce waste by only cooking the amount of food you need.
Whilst everyone has different appetites, using a portion planner gives you a good guide of how much produce is needed per person.
When it comes to considering whether something truly needs to be thrown away, get creative and think outside the box.
When prepping fruit and veg, consider ways you can use the elements you’d normally throw away. For example, leafy green carrot tops can be chopped up and used as a herb, with a flavour similar to that of parsley, or even used to make a delicious homemade pesto.
Is your bread going hard? Blitz it in the food processor and make yourself some breadcrumbs – always useful to have in the kitchen.
Over-ripe fruit can be turned into delicious jams, cakes and desserts, whilst veg can be thrown in for stock, soups, stews and chutneys.
Or why not try making a homemade batch of cider with that bowl of forgotten apples?
To find out more about Hawkes and to try some planet-friendly cider for yourself, visit wearehawkes.com or if you’re keen to try making cider at home, check out the @wearehawkes Instagram guides.
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