Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘food

A better fortnight for food management

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Yoghurt. That’s my problem.
We eat stacks of it in this house and then, for reasons unknown, we just stop. But I keep buying it. And it goes off.
It’s been one of those fortnights: one of those “don’t fancy yoghurt” at any meal. Which means one litre of Greek yoghurt has glugged down the sink. At least I can recycle the tubs.
Apart from that, it has been a fairly good two weeks when it comes to food wastage.
Apart from the one litre of Greek yoghurt, I’ve only thrown away a large floret of broccoli and a couple of apples (and they went into the compost bin). I reckon that’s just about £2 worth.
The kerbside recycling bin is chockablock every two weeks with plastic, paper, tins, Tetra packs, cardboard and so on, while we average about 15 litres of landfill rubbish.
I think I’m getting better at food management – but no rosette yet. I’ve got about six overripe bananas that need to be made into a cake. And it should have made done a couple of days ago.

Written by CommonPeople

February 28, 2009 at 4:59 pm

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Am I winning the battle against waste?

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I can see the disappointment in your eyes; I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I was meant to write a weekly blog post about my food disposal habits. My excuse is that I went away and the hotel’s wifi connection was down.
So, instead I have collated two weeks’ worth of rubbish (literally!) and put them together in one post.
After week four’s glowing report of a satisfyingly empty bin, this past fortnight sees me a little more circumspect.
As I suspected, week four was a blip, but I still think I’m doing well, even though the time has not been set aside to polish my halo.
However, the freezer is fuller than normal because I have made a concerted effort to save any leftovers that can be reused, turn stale bread into breadcrumbs and made sure anything close to its use by date that isn’t going to be consumed is packed up and sent to cold storage for another day if it can be, of course. Some things can’t, of course.
Last week (week five) it was fruit and vegetables that let me down – or, more accurately, we didn’t eat enough of them, so they go off. It’s incredibly soul-destroying to see fresh items deteriorate as they lay uneaten, their destiny only for the compost bin.
This week (week six), it’s dairy produce that has been left in the fridge to grow into something beardy and horrid that has let me down.
On the up side, our new recycling regime – introduced by the local authority has meant I have a very full 160litre bin of recyclable items and just a 30litre bag of rubbish destined for the landfill.
So the two week tally of thrown away food is as follows:
Banana*
5 apples*
5 potatoes*
Two home-grown parsnips*
Three home-grown beetroot*
Satsuma
1 ½ packs of shiitake*
Entire tub of Quark
300ml crème fraiche
1/3 pint of skimmed milk
*= composted
That comes to about £4.70’s worth of food thrown away– not too bad over a fortnight, I guess, but I still have the magical goal of NOTHING being chucked out over a prolonged period. Soon? Fingers crossed…

Written by CommonPeople

February 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

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Diary of a throwaway foodie: week 3

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Another week of shame, but I have noticed a pattern developing already with my throwaway food habits.

This is the third week of tracking the food that I throw away and it is developing into an obsession. There is much heart-searching when I chuck something out that could have been used if it weren’t for the fact that I was too lazy to do anything with it.

As much as anything, it’s what to include and not include in the list. The crusts from the children’s packed lunches? No. But uneaten yoghurts, yes, because they couldn’t be eaten after hours in a bag in an overheated classroom.

The leftovers on the dinner plate or in the breakfast bowl? No, because they couldn’t be reused anyway. But extra portions of dinner that have to be chucked out after a day because no one could be bothered to cover it up and stick it in the fridge? Yes, because it is wasteful.

The beginning of the week is efficient food-wise with very little being discarded, which is great. It seems to be Throwaway Thursday when it goes wrong: when you realise that there is little left in the fridge before the weekend shop and what is left is out of date.

I have noticed that I am eating more leftovers: whether or not that has an impact on my waistline is something I’ll have to watch out for. Am I eating more just so I don’t add it to my list? That is a possibility, but it isn’t deliberate, perhaps subconscious (well it was, until I thought about it. It’ll be a deliberate choice now, of course).

Part of this self-inflicted challenge was to look at the amount of rubbish I threw away, too, although it is very much a minor walk-on role. However, only one full bag of refuse was collected by the bin men this week (I didn’t put in the half used bag), which means that only 30 litres of unrecyclable waste has gone to the landfill.

I was very excited to receive a new bin this week (my life is not one great long party!), which means that the local authority will soon be changing its doorstep recycling collection to include yoghurt pots, Tetra packs, plastics, plastic bags, cardboard and greetings cards alongside the usual paper, glass and tins.

But, to the main point, which is my food shame. Here it is:

A half tub of vegetarian pate

Full pack of coriander*

125g of cottage cheese

Half a pint of skimmed milk

One mango

2 Frube yoghurts (should have frozen them and forgot)

Half a small tub of creamed cheese

3 pots of fruit yoghurt

One-quarter of a white loaf

Three lollipops (junk!)

Six small chocolate bars that no one liked (part of a raffle prize at Christmas)

Comic pear*

(*denotes it was composted).

I’ve totted this grand list to about £4.80. I’ve not included the sweets as we didn’t buy them. Over a year that would be £249.60, so about the same as last week.

Despite my efforts, I’m not improving at all. Time to think of a new strategy for next week!

Written by CommonPeople

January 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

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Waste not, want not. The diary of a throwaway foodie

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I am wasteful. There. I said it.

 Despite having similar genetic tendencies to Scrooge at times, I do find that I throw a lot of food away that I should have used – or, with a bit of care, made into something delicious.

 Instead, yoghurts, vegetables and other fresh produce deteriorate away in the fridge and cupboards, only to re-emerge in a state quite different from when it went in.

 It’s a waste. And I’m fed up of it.

 According to WRAP, households across the UK throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food – that’s about one-third of the food we buy. That’s a hell of a lot of meals.

 On its website, WRAP (wrap.org.uk) says: 

 “The environmental costs of food waste are enormous.  It is estimated that 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food production, distribution and storage.  If we stopped wasting food that could have been eaten we could prevent at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year.  The majority of these emissions are associated with embedded energy but a significant proportion arises as a result of food waste going to landfill sites.  Once in landfill food breakdown produces methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.”

It has been campaigning for a while to get us to reduce the amount of food we chuck away and while I’ve been aware of it and have always striven to minimise waste, it just doesn’t happen.

 That piece of bread crust that never gets eaten? Sometimes I’ll turn it into breadcrumbs and stick it in the freezer. Sometimes it goes on the bird table. Occasionally, it has become so mouldy that it goes in the bin.

Bananas that have become too ripe to eat? I know I could whip up my easy banana cake in a few minutes, but sometimes I cannot be bothered. The only thing that gets fed, then, is my garden composter.

Oranges that have been in the fruit basket too long? Yum – nice, home made orange juice. No – usually in the bin (not always the composter because of the acidity).

 Oh, yes, I do recycle. Cardboard, plastic and Tetra packs are taken to the local municipal tip; the local authority collects paper, bottles and cans; I send my dead batteries to a special recycling plant (I’ve been meaning to buy rechargeable for years…) and veg and fruit peelings/mouldering vegetables/tea bags, coffee grounds are sent to the three composting bins in my garden.

 When my children were babies I used washable nappies.

 I’ve managed to cut down on the amount of waste that goes into the landfill by half – there are usually two 30 litre bin bags in my bin a week (and that’s for a family of four).

 All this is very laudable, but I’m not ready to polish my halo just yet.

 I still throw away too much food. Which is not just a waste of food, but money.

 Now we are at the nub of it. Last year, a government study found that surplus food that was thrown away added £420 a year to our food bills.

 The Cabinet Office report said the average UK household threw away £8 of leftovers a week.

 In an effort to stop being wasteful, I’m naming and shaming myself.

 I am going to write a blog post every week about every morsel of food that I throw away and could have used.

 There may not be many readers to this exciting diary entry, but it’ll be there, potentially, for all to see and view my shame.

 Hopefully, the list of discarded items will decrease and I will be able to work out each month how much I could have saved if I hadn’t bought it or if I’d used it properly.

So, the list of shame for this week is:

One out of date egg;

250ml of pineapple juice

100g of tinned sweetcorn

half a large pot of natural yoghurt

two half packs of celery (should have gone in the compost but I couldn’t bear to get them out of the wrapper, so went in the bin. FAIL)

a Frube yoghurt

two mini pittas

two slices of Quorn ham

half a pack of pre-packed salad (bad enough buying it in the first place) and a handful of grapes (in the compost bin)

half a pack of Walker’s cheese and onion crisps

1 mini Yulelog cake bar.

I reckon that comes to about £3.50 worth of food which, over a year, would equate to £182 – about two weeks’ worth of shopping. We’ll see how I get on.

Written by CommonPeople

January 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm