Recent reports from a government-backed anti-waste campaign has found that discarding food costs the average household £480 a year, with this figure rising to £680 per year for a family with children – the equivalent of about £50 a month.
Since 2006, household food waste has fallen by 13 per cent across Britain, yet families still discard 7.2 million tons of food and drink at home every year, most of which could have been eaten, officials said.
The consumer group, Which?, has said that high food prices, which have risen by 12 per cent over the past five years, have become more important to shoppers in the downturn. As household budgets become under increasing pressure, people are already changing their shopping habits, eating out less and looking for more special offers.
How do you shop? I personally hate food shopping, but that may be due to the fact of working in a well-known supermarket for seven and a half years. I duck in and duck out, and try to spend as little as possible, yet I still seem to throw food away.
How often do you eat food that doesn’t look good, or looks a little odd? I have to say I eat a lot of food that doesn’t look good as that’s the sum of my cooking skills – I promise you it does taste edible, even if it doesn’t look it. But have you ever considered eating weirdly shaped fruit and veg? Or do you just go straight for the stuff that looks good out of habit?
Eating weird and wonky fruit and veg could cut food waste, a poll by Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) has reported. The Guardian states that the survey found that most British shoppers are not put off by irregularly shaped produce.
The poll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,007 people in the UK and found that more than 80% of British shoppers would be happy to buy fruit and vegetables which are not perfect in shape or colour.
The poll from IME showed that fewer than one-in-five people would only buy produce that is unblemished and uniform in size and shape. In the poll, 45% of people said that the appearance of fruit and vegetables doesn’t matter; 26% said they would buy the cheapest option, and 10% said they would actively seek out and choose imperfect looking produce.
In January, another report by the IME estimated that between 30% and 50% of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. They found that vegetable and fruit crops around the world are frequently not harvested or do not leave the farm after failing to meet tough quality controls on physical appearance imposed by retailers and supermarkets.
Weather affects harvests
Our poor excuse for weather in the UK doesn’t help matters when it comes to fruit and veg. The poor summer last year left some supermarkets struggling to keep shelves stocked with fresh produce and found them having to take a different direction and apologise for the fact that some fruit and vegetables were of a lower quality than usual. When winter rolled round, things didn’t get any easier with flooding and heavy rainfall making the situation worse.
To help ease the situation, Sainsbury’s even relaxed its rules on the cosmetic appearance of fresh produce and allowed fruit and vegetables that would normally be ploughed back into fields to be sold in its 1,012 stores.
With food waste being such a problem and the UK throwing away 15 million tonnes per year of food, is eating a wonky carrot so bad? Would it take the price being cheaper for people to consider it, or would you just take it as being normal if these types of vegetables were on the shelves every day?
To quote Love Food Hate Waste; “We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. It’s costing us £12bn a year and is bad for the environment too.”
When it comes to wasting food, we’re all guilty of it; whether it is overfilling a plate and finding that we can’t eat it all and chucking the remainder away as there isn’t enough to save for a second meal. Or there’s opening a pot of pesto and finding that we just can’t get through the entire pot before it’s supposed to be eaten. If we think about it, there’s at least one item of food that we are guilty of throwing away each time we buy it. The one item I am constantly guilty of throwing away? Tomatoes. It doesn’t matter how much I try and get through the packet before they go soft and squidgy, there is always at least a handful of tomatoes that will find their way into the bin.
Worldwide about one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems, according to data released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Wasting food means wasting money both at the household level and in businesses throughout the supply chain – about $200 billion annually in industrialised regions.
In the UK the average family could save £680 per year, and the UK hospitality sector could save £724 million per year by tackling food waste. While the value of waste in the manufacture and retail of food and drink in the UK is £5bn. Food is a valuable resource and yet in the UK about 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year. Almost 50 percent of this comes from our homes. Action needs to be taken.