Food is on everyone’s lips but the table talk is so often about taste, and not on how and why we waste.
Half our food goes to waste – we are buying in excess, confused by dates, incorrectly storing food and serving too much.
We can focus on steps to reduce waste. However, it goes deeper. We are still reluctant to put our money where our mouth is and pay for good, clean, fair food. The majority of the food bought is percentagewise far from real food and made up of so much packaging.
I am a bit of a vege stalker. I watch how people cradle their blueberries at the market and nurse their kale. I notice in contrast how carelessly people load their trolleys and pile their packets of food. I watch children savour homegrown tomatoes and count their carrots. Nothing is wasted. Imagine how you would feel if you wasted a fillet of chicken after you had fed it, processed it and then killed it. These steps in the process deepen our relationship with food, and reduce the chances we will waste it.
There is a plethora of recipes and tips for ‘frugavores’. Food-saving practices such as making broth, as commonplace as brushing your teeth, originated when you could confidently eat all the plant or animal. Because pesticides and chemicals reside on the fruit/vege skin and peel, in the surge to create as much food as possible much is wasted – sprayed and raised quickly, reducing its value. From roots to leaves everything can be consumed when we grow things nature’s way.
The same commitment to food is required for those donating food waste. Food banks are thriving thanks to supermarket donations; chefs too are winning hats for their efforts in food waste prevention.
Looking on the shelves of a food bank I see minute noodles, carbonated soft drinks, dry cracker biscuits and breakfast cereals loaded with sugar. Yes food is being donated, but much energy is being expended to produce so little value. I often wonder: Is it simply a dollop of great PR?
Buy wisely and pay the true price of what it costs to produce your food and put your money where your mouth is. Pay for the orange that allows you to safely eat the zest (skin), taste the difference and smile at your farmer.
Alison Drover is a sustainable food consultant, owner of Fork in the Field, and is an active promoter of, and ambassador for, real food. www.alisondrover.com