In the magazine section of this past Sunday’s paper, there was an article, or rather a picture data graphic, showing the top 50 foods that are thrown away each year, in tons, in the UK. Some of the items I wasn’t surprised at, but then yet, there were some that I was curious about.
We are not keen on wasting food in this house and will use every last bit possible, but we have had times where things were tossed out because they’ve gone off. Yes, I’ve had to throw away the odd tomato or a piece of cucumber or a half carton of cottage cheese. Those things I can see having to throw out because they’ve definitely reached their ‘use by’ date, mostly because I’ve forgotten they were in the fridge and well, I didn’t see them. Nothing like reaching around in the crisper draw only to pull out a half a cucumber that looks and feels like something you would find in a sewer…yuck!
Many of the items listed, the ones I wasn’t surprised about were things like yogurt (80,000 tons), citrus fruits (19,000), soft fruit like berries (41,000), cucumbers (31,000), milk (360,000), bread (540,000) and tomatoes (61,000), etc. All quite understandable, albeit astounding numbers.
Then there were things like cheese (38,000). Depending on the cheese, if you see a little mold, cut it off; the rest of the cheese is fine and there’s no need to toss out the whole block. Other items, things like ready meals (490,000), sausages (29,000), fish/shellfish (32,000), bacon (14,000), and processed potato (74,000), can all be frozen so I can’t understand why these items are wasted. The processed potato had a picture of a bag of frozen roastie chips/fries, so this one is really confusing as they’re already frozen!
Then there were the items that really boggle the mind. The first one is pasta (42,000)…it didn’t specify cooked or dried, so I can only assume they mean cooked. I can’t imagine why anyone would throw away dried pasta. The next item was…bottled water (69,000)…huh??? It’s water, what’s the problem? Perhaps they mean that someone drinks half the bottle and throws the rest away? This action is a double whammy because the bottle could have been put into the recycle bin. Next is rice (64,000)…See pasta.
Another item is oil and fat (20,0000)…with the obesity problem in this country, I find this hard to believe. Then there’s carbonated soft drinks (280,000)…will assume this goes along the same lines as bottled water and again, the can could go into recycling. Here’s another good one…tea (86,000). Again, do they mean what isn’t drank at the bottom of the cup; perhaps the tea goes cold and it has to be dumped down the drain? The UK are tea drinking fools and I can’t imagine anyone throwing away unused tea bags.
The next item is squash (53,000). For those of you not in the know, I don’t mean squash as in the vegetable. Squash here also refers to a concentrated fruit juice which is mixed with water. This again, I will assume goes along the same lines as tea.
There’s several other foods listed, but I think my favorite item listed is chocolate (24,000). What is wrong with you people?!! How could you waste something as precious and wonderful as chocolate??? For those of you who waste chocolate, you should be put in the stockade! (I was going to suggest another form of punishment, but I didn’t want to be put in the same category as Jeremy Clarkson with his remark a few months ago) 😉
The problem is not necessarily that the food is off or has gone bad, but it’s got to do with the so called confusing ‘use by’ or ‘best by’ dates on food labels.
Most people can use common sense to determine whether food is off or not, but there are some who can’t. Look at it, smell it, even taste it. If it doesn’t look bad, smell bad or taste bad, then it probably isn’t bad. However, when in doubt, throw it out.
LOVE FOOD, HATE WASTE!