Appreciate your food: looking into waste and sustainability

Bethany Pownall calls for action against food waste, a growing problem in the UK.

Food waste is an underestimated issue of our generation that desperately needs to be tackled. WRAP, a waste and recycling advisory body, estimates that the UK wastes around 10 million tonnes of food each year, which is equivalent to throwing away £17 billion; or in simpler terms, £450 per average household. If we continue to waste such an enormous amount of food, we will soon face an unsolvable problem whereby our food supply will not be able to support our population.

My passion for this issue initially arose from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s War on Waste, a series which aired on BBC One in November 2015. Before watching the program, I was very naïve and didn’t give food waste a second thought. However, Hugh’s War on Waste gave me clear, behind-the-scenes insight into the food industry, highlighting how even at the source, tonnes of produce is unnecessarily wasted. For example, many fruits and vegetables are not stocked because they do not meet the size, shape or colour specifications of supermarkets. With an estimated third of all food not being consumed, awareness is needed for a collective effort to tackle this problem.
Nowadays, the supply of food appears infinite to the average consumer. However, we live in a world with finite resources that are rapidly depleting as a result of carelessness. Many tend to forget that the planet is unable to sustain an ever-growing population. The simple fact is that the world cannot consume the way it does today for the rest of time!

It is apparent to me from my grocery shopping trips that many people walk around their local supermarket adding food items to their trolley or basket without thinking if or when the produce will be used. Shoppers need to become more appreciative and thoughtful when handling and consuming food.

According to Whittingstall, bread, milk, potatoes, cheese and apples are the most wasted foods in the household. These are all easy ingredients to use up if you know how. The trick I’ve found is to get creative with them. In my uni house, bananas seem to be the biggest waste issue. However, with a little imagination it’s so easy to use them up: put them in a cake; make banana pancakes; stick them in a smoothie.

Being the keen bean I am, I have recently noticed that Morrisons stock ‘wonky vegetables’ which cost far less than normal, simply due to them not being ‘aesthetically pleasing’. I would encourage everyone to start buying the wonky avocados, which cost £1.56 for five, as opposed to £1 for one. This is a deal that is absolutely perfect for students like you and I, and that at the same time helps save the planet!

I hope I have inspired you to solve this hidden issue. Whether it’s using up those left over potatoes at the back of the cupboard or investing in some wonky vegetables, there’s something we can all do to start cutting down on our food wastage.

Bethany Pownall 

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Photo Credit: Pixabay