The brown bin always seems to be full. Where is all that food waste coming from? In Sarah McInerney's case, it’s mostly green beans. Sarah confessed to chef and author Conor Spacey that she shops online and isn’t always sure what’s in the fridge, so she orders stuff anyway, just in case. This has led to a lot of green beans being thrown in the brown bin. Indeed, the average household throws out a whopping €700 worth of food every year. So, Sarah asked Conor, why do we do this? It’s a lifestyle problem, he says:
"There's a number of reasons, really, and a lot of it is when you think more about our busy lifestyles, first of all, as a family or even as individuals, in our work and balance lifestyles, we tend to almost not appreciate the true value of food and kind of have this disconnect with food."
A lot of the problem is how we shop because we don’t really plan ahead when we go shopping, Conor says:
"You know, how many days are we at home? How many evenings are we cooking a meal? If I’m having a takeaway on Friday night, well then that’s fine, but do I need to have food in the fridge for a Friday night meal? As boring as it might sound, it really is all about planning."
We need to take a few minutes to work out how many times we’ll be eating at home in a given week and factor that into our shopping. It sounds easy enough, but Sarah tells Conor that she does that and she still ends up with too many green beans. The problem is, Conor says, Sarah is shopping blind and it’s something a lot of us do and online shopping tends to make the problem worse:
"You’re shopping probably online from work or the car or wherever it might be and you’re not quite sure what’s already in your cupboard or in your fridge and so on and that leaves – because one thing I always say to people, we're very guilty of we do a shop and whether it be delivered or whether we're doing it physically and coming home in bags and then we empty the fridge to make room for the new stuff."
Bread is the number one wasted food in our households, followed by fruit and vegetables. Cormac wondered if, instead of throwing out stale food, the staleness could be masked by spices or seasoning. Conor tells him that there are definitely ways to use stale food rather than simply throwing it out:
"There’s loads of different, simple ways say, with bread, from the very basic breadcrumbs and croutons to a bit more elaborate like a bread hummus. I even have a recipe for gorgeous chocolate cake where I replace the flour with stale bread and it’s full-on chocolate goodness."
Just don’t tell the people you’re serving it to what it’s made of. You can hear Conor’s full tips on cutting down on food waste in conversation with Sarah and Cormac on Drivetime by clicking above.
Wasted by Conor Spacey is published by Blasta Books.