Another week, another article on food waste. Today’s care of The Guardian.
This time the headline grab is that only 3% of UK adults feel ashamed at wasting food
The statistics tell us that for the average family food waste costs £700 a year. That’s a holiday. Gone. In the bin.
The food waste issue is a complex one and it is certainly the case that, as consumers, we could change our shopping habits to reduce our personal food waste, save money and spend it on that holiday instead.
However, it is always worth looking behind these headlines that gently seek to place the blame for food waste squarely on us. Joe Public. This, in part, is an attempt to deflect us from the bigger picture that is the waste endemic along the food chain from grower through to supermarket. This chain is essentially controlled by the supermarkets who have built a certain level of waste into their business model. In the end whether we waste food or not is probably not something they will necessarily be overly concerned about. What does concern them is that we don’t reduce our overall level of spending.
However, as consumers we have control. Much more than we think. Think of attitudes to eggs and battery farming.
If we start to make demands and exercise some financial muscle we can make change. Saltaire Canteen is part of The Real Junk Food Project – an ambitious social enterprise born close by in Leeds that aims “to really feed the world” and at the same time address the issue of food waste.
Over the past 3 years we have talked, cajoled, been fobbed off by but eventually won over some supermarkets who have now recognised the issue of food waste and now appear genuinely committed to doing something about it. Our (and their) approach is simple, low tech and unglamorous. It doesn’t involve smart fridges or food-swapping apps. It simply involves the supermarkets making available food that they would otherwise throw away – most often as it is approaching its “Best Before” date. We collect that food and make use of it in our cafes and, through a project we call Fuel For School, we make it available to children in many schools across the region.
Since the end of 2013 the Real Junk Food Project has saved over 350 tonnes of food from being wasted and has served over 150,000 meals.
At Saltaire Canteen we are proud to be a part of the Project and we’d be delighted if you’d join us at Saltaire Canteen in making food waste history.