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Waste Not...

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Photo by Kevin Reinaldo on Unsplash

Millions of tonnes of food and drink is thrown away every year in the UK and much of this waste could have been avoided. Shocking, isn't it?

Then there's the global picture. Many people don't have enough to eat and the environmental impact of food production is huge. We all need to take responsibility for living more sustainably and minimising food waste where we can.

At home there are ways we can make a difference. It just takes a bit of organisation, with better meal planning, buying what you need and making a weekly list of meals to keep you on track. You'll find that you save money, throw less food away and discover a few new recipes along the way.

Try using the whole ingredient. For example, did you know you can grate avocado stones and use them like nutmeg? Avocados can be frozen too. Adding parmesan rinds to risottos and soups will give extra flavour. You can use chopped broccoli stalks in stir fries or to make soups. The same goes for cauliflower and it's also great in curry and pasta. Most veg is perfect for soup or you can use it to make cakes, from beetroot brownies to carrot cake. Any vegetable peelings can be used to make stock, frozen or used for compost.

Savoury ice cream, anyone?

For vegan meringues, you can use chickpea water instead of egg whites. Leftover beans or pulses can be turned into hummus and dips. Just add your favourite spices, garlic, oil and lemon juice. Sour milk is fine to use when making soda bread or farls, a type of bread from Northern Ireland which is cooked on a griddle.

Bread is one of the most common items thrown away and stale bread can be used for some delicious recipes. Savoury ice cream, anyone? You can whizz it into breadcrumbs, add anchovies, oil and garlic, saute in a pan and toss through pasta with parsley. Make bread and butter pudding for a sweet treat or get organised by splitting a loaf, freezing and defrosting as you need it.

Try to shop locally and buy seasonal ingredients. This helps independent businesses and the environment at the same time. Go to your local farm shop or greengrocers and enjoy fresh produce when it's at its best. You'll find there's less plastic and pre-packed fruit and veg too.

Collectively, we can work on reducing food waste as well as helping to build sustainability. This extends to building communities around food, from feeding people to tackling isolation and loneliness. Food banks, charities like the Cathedral Archer Project, and organisations such as the Food Works (formerly Real Junk Food Project) and Food Hall are all delivering these vital services in Sheffield.

Food Hall are currently developing the National Food Service to create more opportunities for social eating spaces. "Many more people could enhance their wellbeing with social eating and this is why growing a National Food Service together is such an important goal," they say. Check out their podcast to follow their progress and hear about upcoming events.

Here's a spotlight on what's happening in Sheffield and some more tips to help you minimise food waste.

Ros Ayres

@Nibbly_Pig

Forge Bakehouse

302 Abbeydale Road, S7 1FL

"We aim to keep food waste to a minimum but as we don't use additives or preservatives, we have an additional challenge as our products tend to have shorter shelf lives.

"Any unsold bread we have is sold at half price the next day. If that doesn't sell, it goes to feed the pigs at Heeley City Farm. We've recently added a refrigerated counter, which means many of the products we used to keep at ambient temperature are good for longer.

"For leftover bread, try Italian recipes like ribollita soup and panzanella salad, which use older bread. Leftover bread is great used to make croutons. Try adding a little salt and rosemary."

Our Cow Molly

Cliffe House Farm, Hill Top Road, S6 6GW

"We have zero food waste with our milk, cream and butter. Everything we produce is done to order, down to the nearest bottle. For our ice cream, any leftover goes in a tub and is sold as 'Russian roulette', as you've no idea what flavours are in there.

"Our milk comes with ten days date but is good for 14 if you look after it. The poly bottles are made in Sheffield and are easily returned back to polymer beads and re-used for non food grade plastics like shampoo bottles."

Food Works Sheffield

49 Carlisle Street, S4 7LJ

"Established in 2015 as The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield, Food Works evolved as an independent organisation in 2019 and now saves a tonne of food per day from being wasted.

"To help reduce food waste at home, plan your meals so you only buy what you need, do batch cooking and freeze meals for the future. Knowing the difference between 'use by' and 'best before' dates helps. You need to adhere to 'use by' for safety, but 'best before' is just a manufacturer's guideline. It isn't related to the safety of the food."

Smorgas

401 Glossop Road, S10 2PR

"We keep food waste to a minimum through careful menu planning and stock control. We always have soup and salads on the menu, which gives flexibility to make the most of any fruit and vegetables that need to be used up. Any surplus salad, vegetable trimmings and coffee grinds go to the staff and neighbours' compost heaps. Employing hungry students helps too. There's rarely much left over by home time.

"Try re-inventing your leftovers and turn them into something new. Think soup, curry or pie. Freeze anything suitable for freezing and after cooking you can even freeze again. A favourite is using frozen bananas. They make the best banana bread."

Foodhall

121 Eyre Street, S1 4QW

"At Foodhall we cook with surplus food which otherwise would have gone to landfill, feeding as many as 200 people a week.

"We believe food waste and food insecurity are some of the foremost environmental and social problems we face. We also believe social isolation affects society just as seriously, and that eating and cooking together is the best way to combat loneliness and build stronger communities.

"Make the most of bananas. We're always collecting loads of bananas. Try making vegan ice cream by chopping them up, freezing and blitzing with coconut milk and peanut butter. Re-freeze and enjoy whenever."

Cathedral Archer Project

Campo Lane, S1 2EF

"A core part of our service is providing breakfast and lunch five days a week to the homeless people who use our centre. Through the FareShare scheme we receive food that supermarkets can no longer sell. We also work with local organisations and shops who donate their leftover food to us. This is handed out on a daily basis, which helps to reduce the amount of food waste.

"As we don't know what food we will get each week, our chef plans what she cooks each day in order to reduce the amount of waste created.

"Our top tip would be to think how you can use ingredients in more than one dish, so that you use everything and don't end up throwing something away."

Next article in issue 135

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