What kind of person throws away perfectly good canned items? Well, a certain family member has done that but I managed to retrieve the items and save them from an already overflowing land fill.
Here’s the scoop:
Chef P’s aunt (M) passed away a year ago and her children are now in the process of cleaning out her house as it has now been sold.
We were asked if we would be interested in any of the furniture in the house so we now have a new bookcase at the top of the landing. When we were there a couple of weeks ago to pick up the bookcase, we noticed all the canned goods sitting on the kitchen counter along with a couple of jars of mustard and two full spice jars (cinnamon and mixed spice). As I’m always on the lookout for jars, I wondered what they were going to do with them.
Just this past Saturday, Chef P’s cousin (S) was back at her mother’s house packing up more personal items. We were at my mother-in-law’s and she said that she was going to take M’s microwave as it was bigger and newer. We went over to M’s and got the microwave and while we were there, I asked S about the canned goods and the jars. Her response? ‘Oh, we just put them out in the bin’. I asked if they were in bags and they were so we grabbed all three bags, left and headed back to mum’s with her new microwave.
We sorted out the canned goods when we got there. We kept some and gave some to mum. There were 3 or 4 small cans each of baked beans and chopped tomatoes plus one large can. There were also two cans of peaches, one can of fried onions, one of steak and kidney pie and one can with no label which we dubbed ‘chef’s surprise’ and I later found out it was a can of apricots.
The jar items included two jars of mustard (one wholegrain, one English), a jar of blackcurrant jam, one of orange marmalade (which I ended up throwing away as it looked a little fuzzy and green around the edges!) and full jars of cinnamon and mixed spice. There was also a tin with a non-opened bag of loose tea which I’ve already sampled (a lovely jasmine tasting tea with camomile) and another full tin from Harrods with Assam tea bags.
It’s bad enough that UK households waste 25% of all the food they buy. I absolutely hate when I have to throw something out, although it’s not really that much; usually the last 2 inches of a cucumber or some spring onions that got stuck at the back of the veggie draw. However, rotten veggies don’t really get thrown out in the trash…they get put on the compost heap so at least they are going to a good cause! We don’t really throw away much of anything else. Leftovers are used for Chef P’s lunch or mine. If bread starts going stale, I cut it up into cubes and throw it in the freezer to use for stuffing. If it has a few moldy spots, I just cut them off. I even save apple peeling and cores in the freezer to use to make my own pectin.
You want to read some more interesting and saddening facts about food waste? Read on…
The UK, US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations. Up to half the entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork. If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people’s mouths.
There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tonnes of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.
All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.
A third of the world’s entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste – or enough to feed 3 billion people; and this would still leave enough surplus for countries to provide their populations with 130 per cent of their nutritional requirements.
Between 2 and 500 times more carbon dioxide can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion (the UK government’s preferred option). But under European laws feeding food waste to pigs is banned. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by contrast, it is mandatory to feed some food waste to pigs.
2.3 million tonnes of fish discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year; 40 to 60% of all fish caught in Europe are discarded – either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system. (this one really gets my goat!)
An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops – mostly because they do not match the supermarkets’ excessively strict cosmetic standards. (as does this one!)
24 to 35% of school lunches end up in the bin.
The bread and other cereal products thrown away in UK households alone would have been enough to lift 30 million of the world’s hungry people out of malnourishment.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?