At Abel & Cole, we've spent the last thirty years seeking out sustainable, ethical and organic choices in food and drink from far and (wherever possible) near. It should be no surprise then, that one thing that breaks our hearts is when good food goes to waste.
The stark fact is that 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted world-wide each year. What's more, 3.3 gigations of climate-changing carbon are emitted into the atmosphere as a result of producing, transporting and disposing of this wasted food. That's the equivalent of 18 million blue whales - give or take. Now, we're no whale experts, but that's a whole lot for the next generation to be dealing with on their own...
As a business (and a B Corp like JoJo), we're well aware that a huge part of the responsibility lies with us to sort out this right royal mess. We're doing loads of work behind the scenes to make the most of every last bite, but that's only half the story. Many hands make light work as they say, so here are some ways that you can muck in and do your bit to reduce food waste too, and maybe get any little hands in your house involved!
1. Have a plan
Before you head to the supermarket (or make your online order, hint-hint), have a plan for what meals you’re going to cook in the week ahead, and aim for an empty fridge by the time the next shop (or organic delivery) rolls round. It stands to reason that there will be nothing going to waste if you only buy what you need in the first place.
2. Use by vs best before
If your food has a printed use by date, there may be a health risk involved in eating it after it’s passed. As sad as it is to waste, safety comes first in this case.
Best before however, is much more of a guideline. Food is diverse and freshness is a moving target. That means supermarkets throw out tonnes of food that’s fine to eat, simply because it’s been blanket labelled as ‘expired’. It’s worth your time having a good look at food before you throw it out though. Can you cut off the bad bit of that carrot and use the rest in a tasty soup? Could that bread that’s a little past it be the croutons on top?
3. Chill out
There’s nothing quite like opening the freezer and seeing all that food you’ve saved from the bin, ready to go at a moment’s notice. As a general rule, you can keep things frozen for up to a year, so date your food and you’ll never lose track again. Bonus points if you batch cook meals or freeze any leftovers from dinner, and double points if you purée your own fruit & veg for the little ones.
4. Waste saving a-peel
From sprout leaf bhajis and banana skin curry to crispy carrot tops, you’ll be amazed at how easy it can be to use up every last bit of your fruit & veg. Similarly, chicken carcasses from your Sunday roasts can make for an excellent stock for soups and stews. If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got it in spades in our online recipe book.
5. Preserve & conserve
Did you know that you can breathe new life into old veg by sticking it in a glass of water in the fridge? This works wonders for bendy carrots and broccoli especially. And, if you’re lucky enough to get hold of organic soft fruits, whizzing them up into jams and jellies makes them last so much longer. The kids will love getting involved too!
6. Put the bin on a diet
If you have your own garden, or even houseplants, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as planting in compost you’ve made yourself. Most food will naturally degrade into healthy, nutritious soil when given the right conditions. From tea bags to toast crusts, there’s still life in so much that ends up in the bin. You’ll find a million and one guides to composting online, and once you’ve gotten started, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.
There you have it. Six simple ways to put your bin on a diet and do your bit to fight food waste. Can you think of any waste-busting tips we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.