Louth Eye
 A guide to Louth in Lincolnshire since 2004

Focus on Food Waste

November 15th 2011

Richard Fox
The world population has topped 7 billion and rising food prices are hitting everyone in the pocket. At a time like this it seems an obscene thing to waste good food. According to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign we were throwing away 8.3 million tonnes of food each year in 2006/7. It's down to around 7.2 million tonnes in recent years, but that's still a fifth of all the food we buy. As part of this campaign TV chef Richard Fox visited Louth in February and demonstrated recipes to help people make the most of leftovers as part of this campaign.

Nine months on I wanted to take a look at the attitudes to this issue amongst people in our area. Did the message sink in, or are we in danger of forgetting all about it? I asked a number of local people to contribute their tips for eliminating food waste, and to explain their approaches. Here they are:
Jill Makinson-Sanders

Jill Makinson-Sanders

"I have very little waste as I was not brought up that way! I do buy stuff when it is on special offer, make my own jams and chutneys and have an ever bubbling saucepan of vegetable soup at the ready. I boil up the chicken carcass for stock...or something similar, then seek out bargain vegetables (look in the greengrocers for their half price tray...but then there will not be any for me!). I top up the soup pot with the water from boiling my vegetables. I scrape any mould off cheese - and it's nicer a bit aged in any case - and often grate cheese on soup or do cheese on toast to make the soup into an even more nutritious meal and perhaps add a bit of pasta too.

Forget sell by dates, they are a marketing tool. If it smells and looks all right then I think it's OK to eat but I am not sure young people have such a liberal attitude to such things. I am the recipient of others worrying about sell by dates....and they have yet to kill me!

As for landfill, I think this waste should be used for its calorific value rather than put into the land. I do compost the cut off bits from my vegetables and I have recently dug a bin's worth into my vegetable patch along with the leaves I swept up from the street last year which have provided me with excellent leaf mould to enrich the soil. This year's sweepings are mellowing nearby. I have spinach and broad beans newly planted too.

I try to plan my meals and run them over a few days, that eliminates waste as well. Shopping local most days of the week also eliminates waste, you buy what you need and it's much better for you fresh.

I guess my parents' generation mastered this issue. They home prepared and cooked their stuff themselves and bought very little fast food. They made cakes rather than buying them. We need to reconnect to knitting, sewing, cooking and so on and to celebrate these skills, sharing them with younger generations. It's a much nicer life, more satisfying and much cheaper. And lastly avoid the supermarkets except for loo paper, cereals, baked beans and tinned tomatoes."

James Pocklington

"My tip would be grow your own salad leaves.

There's a fantastic range available which will (if offered a bit of protection) grow pretty much all year round. You pick as much or as little as you need so there is no waste.

Compare this with how much can be wasted when bought as a complete lettuce, apart from the outer wilting leaves, the inner heart and stem are often discarded. If you also consider the energy that has been consumed to grow, pack, distribute and store lettuce before it reaches the kitchen sink, growing your own salad leaves is a really efficient waste saving, energy saving and cost saving option as well as being extremely nutritious!

For more more advice and practical support go to Lincolnshire's Master Gardeners website."
Margaret Appleton

Margaret Appleton

"An immediate thought on the Louthcfg blog Oct 9th there is a picture with a sample of the years compost! A wormery from Wigglywigglers.co.uk can be kept in the smallest of gardens or balconies to eat organic waste."

Peter Hickman

"I'm more than happy to share a few thoughts on food waste, I'm very conscious of anything that reduces waste and consumption. Did you hear Saturday Live last weekend? There was an excellent interview with a woman who spent a year living on food that had been thrown away by restaurants and the like. Do listen to it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016vx6y.

In terms of my own food waste, I have a small house and a very small garden but I do collect up food waste that can go on a compost and periodically put it on my parents' compost heap. Composting is really not that difficult. "

Dominic Crisp

Dominic Crisp offered this tip via Twitter (@dom_crisp):

"Get some bantams - suitable for even the smallest garden. They eat leftover veggies and give you eggs!"

Lesley Koumi

"I have always saved left overs and turned them into other things and composted waste veg material and have a freezer full of useful things like pureed marrow."

Laura Stephenson

"Waste can be a huge issue, especially if you make the mistake of taking your kids round the shops with you; what parent hasn't been talked into buying a certain cereal only to have it uneaten and the innocent face of your wonderful offspring acting as though they had nothing to do with it. We all like our children to eat healthily, to eat enough, but the way I have got around this is to only buy food I like...might sound harsh but it works....that way I can finish the cereal before it goes soft and inedible, or the fruit before it becomes a small mould spot in the fridge.

Waste is hard to completely get rid of but with a few little tweaks to our lifestyle we can all save money and food.

I have no garden, nowhere to grow any food, I tried in pots but I am sorry to say its not possible where I live. Instead I buy they things I like and the things I will eat, if buying in bulk (buy one get three free etc) I put the extra into the freezer or cool storage, like the garage, where it is less perishable. Making soup or stew before veg is lost and freezing it, soup - the only way I know to get myriad veg into my children! - can be frozen too - and a plastic pint pot holds just enough for two people's meals and can be washed and used again and again...that's if you don't have empty pots from ice cream or glass jars from herbs to use... and I'm sure all of us do - cupboards full.

Reuse and recycle, we all do it in some way, and we all enjoy it, at least I know my children do. No one wants to eat the same meal for a whole week, and living in the 21st century, there's no reason why we have to. Let us use the options open to us and the waste will get less and less without even trying."

Sue Locking

Sue Locking

Councillor Sue Locking, who runs Perkins' Pantry in Mercer Row, had this advice:

Food waste has always been something I abhor, because I think of all the starving people in this modern world, in the 21st Century with great sadness. Food waste is particularly bad, especially by the younger generation, who in general don't seem perturbed by throwing away much of the food on their toddler's ~ or their own ~ plate. I am not saying that we should go completely back to when we were children, as some of our generation were not allowed to leave the table, or have a dessert until they had eaten all their first course, which was rather over the top, but I would like to see them appreciating the value of food management and the good housekeeping which would teach them how to reduce the amount of food they throw away. I think that supermarket ploys of buy one, get one free, encourage food waste, especially with their meat products, which have very short lifespans as opposed to the fresher meat one can buy from the high street butcher. It is NO bargain if you get a free product only to throw it away because you haven't used it!

I suppose that what I am trying to say is, "don't fall for the supermarket "BOGOF"s unless you are sure you can use all the products as wasting the free item can actually make the other one more expensive, and contributes to the excessive amount of food thrown into landfill", and. even more importantly, my tip would be: "Learn and practice good housekeeping & food management".
Rachel Green

Rachel Green

TV Chef and cookery author Rachel Green www.rachel-green.co.uk had this to say:

Boil your bones! Chicken stock is so useful for soups. One chicken can do several meals roast one day, cold the next, then a couple of sandwiches, and finally a risotto with the scraps. But the carcass will make delicious stock just cover it with cold water, add in some celery, a carrot or two, a bay leaf, some seasoning, and it will be perfect for making a lovely vegetable soup. And it really is good for you as it contains natural penicillin.


This Louth resident preferred to remain anonymous, but has some very good advice nonetheless.

"I am a Vegan,and I generally eat differently from my family... so, once a week we cook a large pot full of vegetable curry or Italian based vegetable stew using whatever vegetables we have available in that season and whatever is in our fridge.

Once the curry is cooked, we dish it up into individual portion sizes into tubs and freeze them to be used at a later date, a bit like home made ready meals.

This way we can reheat my meal and it is the correct size for me to eat, so it reduces waste in 2 ways... because it uses all vegetables up in the fridge, and also because the meals are always the correct sized portions for me to eat.

We have a very individual family, where we don't all eat the same, so everyone has exactly what they feel like eating, and this means we don't waste food. We cook everything from the basic ingredients and all leftover vegetables can be used in curries.

Our dog eats the bones from meat chops or fatty gristle... so not very much is ever wasted. Our bread is home made and is frozen and defrosted as we need it... the birds get any stale crusts.

If we get a glut of fruit from our trees, we give it away to friends, or use it for jam.

All of our vegetable peelings are composted or recycled in green waste."

My Tips

  • Count your calories. This has nothing to do with trying to lose weight, it's all about figuring out how much you normally consume in a day so you avoid cooking too much.
  • Don't forget you have friends. If you check your fridge and find you have a surplus, use it as an excuse to invite some people round for dinner.
  • Avoid BOGOF offers on perishable foods, unless you're certain you'll get through them.
  • Grow herbs in pots outside, so they stay fresh and available all year round. Thyme, sage, rosemary and bay trees are particularly good for this.

Landfill tax will reach 64 per tonne in April 2012, and that's going to cost all of us dear if we can't get a handle on this situation.

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