As my favourite niece would attest, this phrase is often on my lips. I got it from one of the characters in Nina Bawden’s story “Carrie’s War” and I just love to say it to bairns; normally, I’m exaggerating slightly when using it but am thinking more and more that it’s one of the key issues in Scotland now.
I read in last weekend’s Sunday Herald about the scale of our food waste and although I’ve been trying harder recently, I’m as guilty as the next person. Maybe not with bread (which is the top wasted foodstuff in the UK with approximately 24 million slices a day going in the bin) because I keep mine in the freezer and I’m trying to stop buying those bags of salad which can go slimy very quickly, buying proper lettuces instead which last for much longer.
I don’t know if this is the place to reveal that I cooked frozen scampi last night that was a year out of date and have suffered no ill effects. This was discovered at the back of the bottom drawer of the freezer, being down there for an ’emergency’ dining opportunity which hadn’t arisen. I gave it a good extended blast in the oven and tasted one bit warily before scoffing the rest; it was fine.
I’ve always thought we should just use common sense when it comes to paying attention to these “sell by” and “use by” dates, discarding anything which looks, smells or tastes off, instead of observing these dates as some kind of legal requirement. Some yoghurts are perfectly fine a week or ten days past their ‘date’; they just need a sniff, a wee taste and a sensible decision.
Zero Waste Scotland recommends freezing a lot more food instead of throwing it out; just do it as it’s about to reach the “use by” date and it’ll be fine. Make a pot of soup with all the veg that’s lying about or in the summer, you can throw stuff from the fridge into a bowl and have an interesting salad-type meal.
Christmas is going to be a challenge for us all as we buy far too much food. The Sunday Herald advice was to start eating now what’s in our freezers so there’ll be room for Christmas leftovers which we should remove from the table fairly quickly, cool and freeze. It’s my firm intention to label things as they go in but this rarely happens and I’ve had many a surprise months later as the ice slowly melts and the contents reveal themselves.
In Denmark, there’s a campaign called “Stop Wasting Food” which has seen a 25% reduction in food waste there. The best-known name behind it is Selina Juul and she provided a lot of the tips in the Sunday Herald article which seem eminently sensible.
There’s a group called “Food Sharing Edinburgh” which collects food that would otherwise be going to waste and redistributes it but as they acknowledge themselves, what they rescue is a drop in the ocean. Good on them though! And the rest of us should be joining in, cutting waste in our own homes and sharing what we have with others.