An article on the BBC website last Friday revealed that British households waste over 3 million tons of food per year. That amounts to just under a third of all food bought, although half of that is inedible matter such as packaging. Wasting food has been a pet peeve of mine for some time, so it’s nice to hear that someone is taking notice.
I try not to waste any food mostly because of personal morals; several people had to work to get food from the earth to my plate, and it’s just wrong to waste that effort. I especially felt this way about meat – the animal gave up its life to be on my plate, what a crime it was to throw that away.
I didn’t really think about the environmental impact, but it’s huge. According to the BBC article, about one-fifth of carbon emissions are related to the production of food. The article contends that modern society is guilty of misjudging food, buying too much and not valuing it. Most people aren’t bothered to throw away food and don’t take the time to save leftovers.
Something that certainly influenced my feelings today is that I grew up being told to clean my plate at dinner. Guilt trips describing starving kids in China, or India, or wherever, were not unheard of. My grandmother was also a big packrat and never threw anything away, let alone food.
These days we end up throwing some food away but it’s something I try to avoid as much as possible. Some fresh items are difficult for us to use up before they go stale. Sour cream is a good example of this – we never seem to use it all before it starts to go moldy in the fridge. Lettuce is another ‘difficult’ food for us.
A few years ago I finally figured out I should freeze leftovers instead of put them in the fridge. These days the number of leftovers we throw away is very minimal. Neatly labeled in the freezer, leftovers make handy microwave meals during the week.