Ethical Eating: How much food do you trash?

dumpster food
dumpster food (Photo credit: Karga Fantasma)

Do you buy more than you can use then end up throwing half of it away? Or buy only what you need, and even then use what many would call rubbish?  Do you refuse food sold on the last Best Before Date even though it’s sold at a drastically reduced price? Or when you see a bargain, will you buy things you don’t normally buy, just to increase variety?

Last week I bought a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread, you know the pre-sliced kind,  baked in a square tin to make perfect square sandwiches, and sold in a plastic bag.  English: cadifus I wanted toast for the next morning, but the shop didn’t have any of my usual unsliced, whole wheat and I seldom eat white.  I had decided to go without, but when I got to the till  (cash register) there was this 18 pence loaf of bread staring me in the face so, even though I never buy pre-sliced bread, I bought it.  It was on the last day of its Best Before yet it made fine toast for five days.  Apparently the British throw away about 32% of the bread they buy, which is about 680,000 tons a year- because it’s not perfectly fresh!  That’s a lot of bread.  It could feed a lot of hungry people. It could save lives.

English: Dumpster with extensive graffiti, dow...
Would you dumpster dive for dinner? Image via Wikipedia

Stopping the waste before it comes into our homes is the goal of British MP Kerry McCarthy who recently proposed a food waste bill to oblige supermarkets and restaurants to give some of the food they throw away, to charity instead.  I’m not a  dumpster diver,  but I’ve met people who are and was appalled when they told me they went to the dumpsters behind Supermarkets to get their food – but – they explained, it’s perfectly good food and it’s thrown it away. If McCarthy’s bill gets through, dumpster divers will be finding slimmer pickings, but less food will end up in land fill sites and instead, land in the stomachs of more hungry people than those willing to dumpster pick.

I’m really frugal and won’t throw away anything unless it’s gone moldy, or obviously rotten.  But then I don’t usually buy more than I can eat.  I’ll make salad in an empty mayonnaise jar, to get the last bit of mayo; and rinse pesto bottles with a little milk to get another serving of sauce. Fruit and veg that are old, or even half rotten, are cut up and added to something I’m cooking (not the rotten part).  I use left overs in a new dish.  I  just don’t waste food.

There are millions of hungry and malnourished people the world over, and the planet seems able to produce enough food for all of us, it just needs a new distribution system. Not wasting what comes my way is my contribution to developing that new system.

How about you?  Do you create new dishes from old food? Or just chuck out what looks a bit off?

Most of my recipes are pretty frugal, and started with Recipes from an Empty Fridge, so if you’re looking for ways to use up bits you might otherwise chuck, I hope you find a recipe on here that will inspire you.

Also here’s a list of ideas for stale bread that I snatched from BBC‘s Anna-Louise Taylor:

Do you have any other ideas?

15 thoughts on “Ethical Eating: How much food do you trash?

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  1. I don’t throw any food away but maybe that won’t surprise you. If I peel non-organic veggies the peelings go to the chickens. They seem pretty healthy on it anyway. Any stale (spanish) bread goes to the chickens too. Interestingly in Spain they don’t seem to worry about sell-by dates. I wanted to buy some tofu once, past it’s fecha de caducidad – and I was gutted she wouldn’t reduce it!! (I didn’t buy it).

    1. Non-organic peelings to chickens!? But they’re healthy!? But what about the eggs!? Residual non-organic traces on peelings will accumulate in the eggs and KILL YOU!!! 😉 I certainly hope you don’t eat the chickens…You’re not vegan I take it. Or a fanatical organic person. You can bet if you had been Spanish the tofu would have been reduced.

      1. The chickens are tough. That’s why they are healthy. The trace chemicals will have been so far reduced that they won’t kill me via the few eggs we get. Yet 😉

        No, we don’t eat the chickens. They get thrown out when the die. How does that fit with the waste theory??

        I would pretty easily be vegan (and have been) but we like having the chickens. What use is a cockerel? Actually he is a good guard, he always doodles when we arrive anyway. But he doesn’t lay eggs.

        I am fanatically organic when the produce is there. Hence my fridge being pretty empty these last few days cos no produce in supermarket. But you also have to balance fridgy trucked organic stuff against fresh non-organic. Dilemmas dilemmas.

        I don’t know about that reduction. Maybe I should have pushed it more. Worth bearing in mind.

        Hope I have managed a post without a spelling error this time!!

    1. I attended a talk last year by a guy who wrote a book about social media and the web, and he said to leave a few errors on blog posts. Apparently they get more hits if they aren’t perfect. Duh!

      1. What bollox. Or bollocks? 😉

        Don’t you love wasting your time to listen to non-experts?? I think social media is such a vacuous conception, perfect for none-entities to make a name for themselves. Famous for five seconds over the internet??

      2. Gosh you are an entertaining vixen! You’re British aren’t you? I am not a fan of social media, yet we are quite social with WordPress – so careful what you say 🙂 Vacuous? Moi?

      3. Yes. I am. I wd have thought that was obvious, if only by the spelling 😀 (or none-spelling 😉 )

        I’m busy right now. Need to find some photos for a non-photo-blog post. Can’t witter on here any more. Soz and all that.

  2. Back to the chickens: when you kill them rather than dumping them couldn’t you sell them? or give them to a soup kitchen? and if they aren’t tasty, how about cat food? BTW – let me know when you start turning green from eating eggs produced by chickens fed on non-organic veg peelings. 😉

  3. Ummmmmm don’t buy too much, grow most of my own, compost remainder.
    I heard of a guy who composted EVERYTHING including road kill (well the stuff he couldn’t eat)

    1. Do you need peelings for compost? I understand there is a system set up in B&H for community composting, at least one scheme running at Palmeira Square. Wish I cld grow my own…no where to plant. and the garden in front is owned by woman next door who won’t share!

      1. Don’t NEED peelings for compost, any organic matter. Have you tried Brighton Permaculture trust? They have a site at Stanmer park and like to meet new volunteers. I am a little bit too far away but hey… A tour round the Brighton Earthship is well worth it every third sunday of the month I think.

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