fivemack (fivemack) wrote,

Discarded food

ewx points at this article, which is the very carefully-surveyed source for the various claims you see about food waste. It's tedious to read, because the food is divided into categories which are all carefully named with the names always referred to in full, so the string 'meat and fish meals' appears much more often than in continuous prose, and there's lots of data presented as paragraphs which would take up less space as unadorned tables of numbers.

I'm a bit surprised by the clause on composting, because food waste thrown on the compost heap is just as much thrown away as food waste thrown in the bin in the sense of not being food thereafter.

It's an interesting report, and it seems to fit in with what I can remember of my experience: throwing gone-off food away isn't something that sticks in the memory, but certainly sprouty potatoes and brown apples are among the things I remember throwing out. I've deliberately bought very little prepared food for several years, after living off it in my first year living out as an undergraduate; but packaged salads do turn swiftly to compost in the bag.

The conclusion I think I'd want Tesco to draw is that many of the products they sell, particularly salads, pork products and cooking sauces, need more preservatives and a longer shelf life, and possibly to be sold in smaller portions - for potatoes, certainly, I buy a five-pound bag and let two pounds of them turn into sprout-ridden monsters at the bottom of the cupboard. I've often thrown away half a pack of bacon, since I think of bacon as a staple, make one meal using three or four rashers, and actually only eat bacon once every couple of weeks by which time the rest has turned green and smells nasty. Similarly I've often used half a jar of pasta sauce and found the second half of it covered in white mould when next I want pasta sauce.

The conclusion for food-eaters to draw is that they should weigh out rice and pasta rather than pouring it into cooking-water from the jar, probably not buy packaged salads, and shop more often buying smaller portions of things. The last is of course not a counsel of economy; my aunt's habit of buying lots of one-pint milks and freezing them in the plastic may well make sense. I don't know how alone I am in always clearing my plate, where 'food left on plate' accounts for 30% of avoidable food waste; this is less avoidable in families with picky children.
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