Thursday, 10 January 2013

Unforgivable Wastefulness

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Our news media is reporting that nearly half of all food in the world is wasted due to sell by dates that are not realistic and to supermarkets selling *two for the price of one*, tempting us to buy more than we can eat.
When I was young, before the days of Health and Safety, hardly anything was wasted as there wasn't really that much food to go round. An egg that had been on the shelf for a long time would be put into a bowl of water and if it floated it was obviously bad. If it sunk then it was good enough to eat. We put any scraps and vegetable peelings into *piggy bins* that were collected weekly by the Council to feed the city pigs or we composted vegetable waste in the garden or allotment. How many people died of food poisoning I really don't know. I can't remember knowing anyone who did know anyone who died of it.

There generally isn't that much waste in our household and I wrap up veggie peelings and put into the Council recycle bin now that personal garden composting is a bit too heavy for me to deal with. 
I was appalled by how much extra waste there was over Christmas when my grandsons were staying with me. This was mostly due to picky eating by the boys and over shopping by grown ups and finding the sell by date was long gone on food that we thought we would be needing over the holiday period but didn't.

If the statement is true about half of all food being wasted, then that is unforgivable. It would feed all the hungry in the world. What the remedy is, I really don't know, except for us all to be a bit more careful about how much we buy. However, that would only be a drop in the ocean, wouldn't it? I think the problem starts with food being thrown away long before it gets to the shops. Maybe by the farmers who have to comply with producing perfect shapes and sizes of crops before anyone would buy and throwing away perfectly good food that can't be sold.

 How much food do you throw away? Do you stick to the sell by dates or do you gamble by eating it a few days later?



22 comments:

Jeni said...

I don't usually get all that hyper over the "sell by" dates -it depends on the product involved there for me. However, our biggest problem here comes about when there are leftovers -or items the kids wouldn't eat but had on their plates. Depending on what is left on their plates, sometimes the dog gets a little treat, provided it's something that's okay for him to have. But leftovers in the fridge -all too often they are just there, taking up space and don't get used after all and end up being pitched out then because they started to grow a new life form -like a fur coat of mold.

Leave It To Davis said...

We have started eating left overs first so we don't throw away near as much as we used to. We did this because Hubby retired. We never threw away food when both our boys were still home and Hubby was working because they ate like horses. Now I only have Hubby and my skinny son to feed and we usually have left overs. What doesn't get eaten, and that isn't much since we began eating the left overs first, gets fed to our dogs.

SueAnn Lommler said...

I have gambled....and I have a compost bin. I also turn leftovers into soups or for lunches the next day.
It can definitely get out of hand if one is not careful.
Hugs
SUeAnn

Formerly known as Frau said...

I try to freeze close dates....after working in Grocery stores I know those date can be stretched ! I hope to live a more useful life and waste less its a common problem here in US.

Irene said...

Since I live by myself, I shop carefully and cook just enough food. I eat leftovers and if there is just a little food left, the dog gets it. I very rarely throw food away and find it very wasteful. I don't worry much about the sell by date but just have a taste of the food to see if it is still good.

Expat mum said...

You can't even imagine the waste in the USA. In general, we eat at home and I am Queen of the leftovers - so much so that when I cook a whole meal, I always put the leftovers out too and if a particular child doesn't want the "meal" they can have something else. Keeps everyone happy.
It's restaurants that are the biggest culprit here. The portions are enormous and yes, you can usually have them "boxed" to take home, it's not always convenient to do that.

Jackie said...

I think that your statement, "...for us all to be a bit more careful about how much we buy" is spot on.
It starts with one person doing the right thing. We can't solve these problems if we don't all pitch in and do something about them. One person at a time, one step at a time.... we can do this.
Thank you for a wonderful blog about something that is incredibly important to all of us.
Love you, Maggie....
Hugs,
Jackie

Secret Agent Woman said...

I sometimes realize I've let something mold, but I'm trying to be a little more attentive. I largely ignore sell-by dates. I can tell if something has gone bad or not. I also have a compost bin and sometimes throw stale bread to the squirrels and birds.

Ayak said...

Maggie I was also reading about this dreadful waste and it's appalling. As you will already know from my blog, there is little or no waste in our house (or our village). Everything is used and anything left over feeds street dogs and cats, and other farm animals. We buy what we actually need, when we need it, mostly fresh. If I make a casserole or soup, then some of it gets frozen for future use. I think most people could try a bit harder to avoid wasting food.

ladyfi said...

The Swedes go overboard about the sell by dates, but packaging is so good these days that we can use food long after the dates. It's easy to smell if milk or yoghurt has gone off, for example.

They are working very hard in schools these days to reduce the amount of food thrown away.

Jayne said...

I did read a report that said shoppers wouldn't buy odd-shaped fruit or veg so tons go to waste. Which shoppers are so picky? As long as it's fresh, I don't care what shape things are!

Mary Gilmour said...

About the 'best by' dates - depends on the product, but I do often use foods past those dates. I also compost (and I hear you about the 'heavy' aspect - I've moved to an open pit rather than a barrel. No close neighboours.)
Luckily I have a husband who hates waste so much he will eat almost any leftover.
Where I fail is checking the dates on stored products in the cupboards and freezer. I keep a fairly comprehensive larder since we live half an hour's drive from our shopping town. But I will leave unopened staples too long to be given to a Food Bank if we are not going to use them. Makes me very angry with myself.
yes, food waste is an indulgence we should stop.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Quite agree, Maggie. The wastefulness on food and everything else is amazing. I have always thought so and it really gets up my gander to see any perfectly good food binned when so many people are starving. It just does not make sense on a large scale or a small scale. Health and Safety has to be blamed largely - common sense which we displayed prior to it, is not longer allowed. Just think of all the other needless waste thrown out as well - all the unnecessary packaging - all precious oil based. Maggie, don't get me started or this will turn into a rant!! LOL xx

Shammickite said...

Living by myself, it's easy to be left with extra food, although I try not to buy too much. But anything that doesn't get consumed goes into my "green bin" and gets picked up once a week, and composted. I don't worry too much about the "best by" dates, and I haven't died yet!

CiCi said...

In my little life I throw away so very little. If I am not going to eat leftovers within a day I put it into the freezer for another time and use it in soups or another meal. I am not a wasteful person, sometimes having been teased about my being unable to throw out something. It upsets me to see people throw out food when so many people do not have enough to eat.

Brian Miller said...

the greatest sadness for me is that even with all this waste...there are those that go hungry still in our world...

About Last Weekend said...

Sadly I am one of the worst offenders as I am not good at eating leftovers. Thankfully my husband is and he takes them to work. Shame on me. I do try and shop little and often at the store at the end of the road which means I throw out very little as it doesn't go bad. Interesting about the sell by dates though...my mother always says meat tastes better after few days in the fridge.

FeltByRae said...

Growing up we had very little waste, but then we did live on a smallholding with chickens! Bringing my son up on a very tight income meant food waste just couldn't happen and even now I still waste very little... I only just over half fill my little council food waste bin, but I still feel that is too much waste and am planning on trying ot improve it this year

RNSANE said...

Now that it's me, I am much more careful when I buy groceries! Shopping at stores like Costco are no longer practical - while prices may be better, unless I'm going in with someone on a purchase, it would get wasted by time I consumed it all! I try to be careful about expiration dates but I think things are probably good beyond the date shown. Same with medications!!

Rose said...

This certainly hit home with me--I get upset sometimes by how much food we waste. The only good thing is that produce, at least, goes into the compost bin, so I do make some use of that waste. I try to watch what I buy and to use up leftovers, but even so, I always manage to throw out something. I think some of the problem is in regulations (I don't pay attention to sell by dates for eggs!) and how long it takes to get something from the source to the store. I know lettuce and bananas certainly don't stay fresh as long as they used to.

Hilary said...

Depending on what it is, I'll ignore the best before date and go by my own taste buds instead. That having been said, I find a ridiculous amount of waste when I'm at Frank's place. Overbuying, disinterest in leftovers and food getting shoved in the back of the fridge left undiscovered before it's too late. I don't know if it's a guy thing (it he and his two sons) or what but I find it difficult to accept. Once it's just the two of us under the same roof as we're hoping for this spring, he's promised to relinquish food storage and organization to me. It should be easier for just two. Food wastage bothers me deeply. And yet, if we could feed the hungry instead of overfeeding ourselves, it would be easier for most of us to comply with better habits.. but it just doesn't work that way.

Coey said...

Always gambling! unless it is milk.