Dear friends –
As we focus on becoming a more grounded and resilient global community, our karma yogi Emma Eberhardt shares her reflections on “Food waste as resource” as the second in our blog series on Food Systems:
“In times of crisis, such as the last few weeks and months, flaws in our system which render it unstable are weakened. Now more than ever, our global food systems need to be re-assessed.
The COVID-19 experience has very much changed our attitude towards food. People started stockpiling food, buying more than necessary at times, out of fear. Until now, food was seen as an endless abundant resource, a basic need that we need not think twice about. The situation has rekindled our appreciation and the value of food, while revealing the fragility of our food networks. Underlying the immediate crisis we are in, the climate and ecological crisis is a long-term threat to food security, of which COVID-19 has only scratched the surface.
Many changes in the financial and industrial sectors are needed to start prioritising the health of our planet and ourselves. The coronavirus may be the catalyst for making these changes happen.
A key role in addressing these issues is to change our perception of what food is. An astounding amount of 1.3 billion tonnes of food goes to waste each year. We expect food to come from a supermarket, in a plastic wrapper with a use by date on it. The truth is food can be eaten days, sometimes weeks, after the use by date. 2.9 trillion pounds of vegetables and fruits with blemishes are thrown out because they don’t conform to the aesthetic we have become accustomed to. The amount of work, care and energy put into producing food isn’t even thought of. More food is wasted in people’s homes, and in developing countries where household level food waste is minimal, huge losses are seen in supply chains due to lack of logistics and coordination.
Food waste is a precious resource, which still has much to offer. Below are some tips on how to reduce or avoid food waste. These practical tips are good for the environment, for your health and for your pocket! – and for ensuring there is enough food for all.
- Compost. Collect all your raw food waste in a compost bin, add some dry material such as sawdust or cardboard, give it a stir every month or so and you’re good to go! Food waste decomposes surprisingly rapidly and within a few months, you’ll have nutrient rich compost for your garden. If you don’t have the space to do this at home, why not organise a community compost scheme that everyone can benefit from.
- Preserve your food. It could be fermentation or making pickles, jams, sauces, chutneys or preserves. For some inspiration, look up the Alchemic Kitchen which is transforming food in danger of being wasted into new products, such as sauces, breads, and pickles and selling them in a wholesale market, keeping food and money circulating locally.
- Grow your own food. Start growing your own food in your garden or nearby outdoor space. Growing plants is both therapeutic and will contribute to mitigating climate change by storing carbon. Now you can pick only what you need. Perennials and crops such as courgettes and open-heart lettuce will serve more than one picking. Morag Gamble’s 12 Tips for a Thriving Edible Garden is a good place to start.
- Buy less. Be conscious of what you buy. Get only what is necessary, you can always pop back out if you need more supplies. If you live a long way from shops and find yourself still wasting food, consider redistributing it within your local neighbourhood.”
Many of us have had a sense of slowing down these past weeks, and with slowing down often comes greater consciousness of the little decisions we make every day and the way they affect our lives and our planet. Let’s commit to maintaining this slowness and consciousness, a gift from this difficult period and ensure that it contributes to a better future for us all.