When my mother passed away at the glorious age of 81, she had been smoking for 67 years. Yes, she started at 14 when she started work — almost everybody did. I did the calculations and worked out that she had smoked a house (she died without any property and only a few possessions after living with me for the last 10 years). My father’s uncles, on the other hand, inherited the family farm in Yorkshire and borrowed against it to finance their drinking habits and eventually died penniless.
These are the sins of our forefathers — neither am I entirely guiltless, having eaten enough chocolate to sink a ship — but I wonder if this current generation is any better. Among the high-profile issues of problem gambling, excessive drinking, and illicit drugs, the mostly ignored issue of food wastage is costing households dearly.
The recent TV documentary War on Waste demonstrated the extent of the problem. We eat too much takeaway and we throw away good food. It doesn’t matter how much fruit and veggies you buy at the supermarket, if you leave it in the fridge or the cupboard until it is rotten, then throw it away, it isn’t doing your health any good. That’s the most basic benefit of battling food waste.
Some simple rules would help — buy what you need, eat what you buy while it is fresh, eat up leftovers from meals. Rotate the food in the fridge — it’s not nice to find a month-old orange stuffed up the back going slowly green and furry. Use takeaway as a treat not as a staple part of the diet. If you are eating takeaway more than four times a week, it is too much. (I do have family members in this situation.)
It is worth checking the kiddies’ bags when they get home from school to see what they haven’t eaten. As a teacher, I saw many primary age children throw their food in the bin so that they could go and play! Then they arrive home starving and demanding treats. On the other hand, if they bring home lunchboxes full of food, it is worth finding out why they didn’t eat it, what else could be given them. Also, they can eat that before they ask for afternoon tea. Worst-case scenario, this food can go to the dog to be transformed into love and happiness.
Not only will good food management bring benefits to your wallet and your health; it is also a weapon in the fight to slow climate change. Producing food uses energy; wasting food wastes energy, water, and money. We should all be battling food waste.
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