Food waste costs the average Irish house holder somewhere between €700 and €1000 per year. This is according to “A Leftovers cookbook”, produced for last weekend’s Taste of Monaghan Festival as an initiative of the Environment Section Of Monaghan Co Council. Mícheál Callaghan, of Monaghan Ecological Group, reflects on aspects of food waste, as highlighted at the festival by local chefs, and suggests ways in which the ordinary householder can save money and reduce their impact on the environment by cutting down on food waste.
Logo of the Stop Food Waste Campaign, http://www.stopfoodwaste.ie
Quite often, when walking the aisles of the supermarket, we are overcome by the wide array of foods on display, in brightly coloured and well marketed displays. We can find ourselves buying food which we may not really need or want, the so – called impulse buy. If we buy food we don’t need, there is a greater chance that we will end up forgetting about it or throwing out. Not only does this cost us extra money, it also contributes unnecessarily to the carbon dioxide emitted by food our food system, in the form of food miles.
According to stopfoodwaste.ie, preventing food waste starts when you go shopping and continues at home. It urges people to know what they already have and need before they go shopping, make a list and try to stick to it, and also buy loose fruit and veg, as you are likely to buy more than you need when buying in bulk. It also urges us to pay attention to the ‘best before’ and ‘use by date’. If we look to the back of shelves we often find food with longer ‘best before’ dates. It is also important to understand the difference between best before and use by dates. Best before dates simply refer to quality, while use by dates refer to food safety. Therefore if a product is a day or two outside its ‘best before’ range, then it can still be eaten, though it might not be to the same quality as before, however after the use by date has expired, the food should generally not be consumed.
Even if we do find ourselves ending up with too much food or food that needs to be thrown out, there are more environmentally friendly was to do so than simply throwing the food in the black waste bin. Organic and uncooked food can be used to create compost, which can then can be turned into fertiliser for your vegetable patch or flower beds. Composters can be purchased from as little as €30 from the Recycling Centre. More information available at 047 80888. Another option is to have a wormery whereby worms turn your household waste into high quality compost.
Food cloud is a new social enterprise, started by young Trinity Students, Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, which aims to help businesses and supermarkets reduce their food waste by connecting them with charities and community groups that need food for their beneficiaries. They started this initiative after they learned that Ireland wastes over one million tonnes of food every year, while 600,000 people experience food poverty. Through their phone app, they connect businesses with charities to “help reduce food waste, reduce food poverty and to help restore that good old Irish community spirit based on shared food.”
Another key tip mentioned in “A Leftovers Cookbook”, is the idea of making delicious meals with leftover food. Once you have finished your Sunday roast, you can make a variety of dishes from the left overs. Below is a recipe, contained in the booklet, for Mango Chicken, made from the leftovers of a Chicken Roast.
- 12 oz left over chicken breast or thigh meat (Turkey also suitable)
- 1 red or green pepper chopped
- 4 oz mushrooms
- Half jar Mango Chutney
- Half Carton Cream or yoghurt
- Chop Chickeny and put in a heatproof dish
- Add red / green pepper and mushrooms
- Lightly whip cream and add Mango Chutney or just add the yoghurt
- Pour over chicken and vegetables
- Bake in oven at 1800 for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through
- Served with boiled rice or creamed potatoes
If you would like further information on how to reduce food waste visit http://www.stopfoodwaste.ie or go to the environment section of Monaghan County Council website at http://www.monaghan.ie/en/services/environment