Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Wasted food

Guest blog by Ruth Bond, Barton WI
Resealed, shrink wrapped, and bottled, are just three of the methods the packaging industry has introduced to preserve food stuffs for longer, and all in the name of reducing food wastage. A supermarket guru to shop with you, or the chance to be that supermarket’s town of the year are just two initiatives in the continuing lesson of how to use food for the consumer’s benefit and not to the detriment of the food stuff.  In other words, these are all actions we should try in order to eat what we buy before it goes off and, sadly still the case in many areas, topples into landfill pits or onto landfill mounds. 

We have come some way since the launch of the WI’s Love Food Hate Waste project in 2007 and WI Food Champions roamed the land, but the waste continues.

Last week the WI took part in IGD’s Working on Waste Debate ( with a panel of five from the world of legalities, packaging, selling, government, and the WI. There was the lawyer to make sure that collaboration does not restrict competition; the European director of marketing from a design and packaging company; a supermarket’s head of sustainability, energy and engineering; the director of WRAP to worry about waste every day; and the WI – to consume and try to teach what to do with leftovers.

Do we need industry to collaborate or be competitive, and is it behavioural change both en mass and individually that will stop the seven million tonnes of food waste generated by households yearly? How can we stop the avoidable 4.2million tonnes of that wasted food?

In the WI, we know it is a combination of education and practical teaching, as well as words that bring about a change in the individual. Supermarkets’ hold over producers and consumers also needs to be acknowledged and changed, and profit has to be relegated from top slot in order to feed our nation.  Something is wrong somewhere.

However, every individual action does make a difference. To alter a strap line of one of the major supermarkets: each small action to use, rather than abuse, food means a little less to throw away. Unsightly but still good vegetable and fruit can be used, and sell by dates have a lot to answer for. Perhaps a current television programme will go some way to getting the message over to more consumers on how not to waste food, but those Love Food Champions need to put on their aprons again and rally to the cause.

When there’s a problem, who do you call? The food myth busters – Food Champions, Let’s Cook tutors – the WI!

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