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Posts Tagged ‘waste’

Food Waste. It’s an interesting topic, and one that needs more awareness by not only those in the Food Industry but also by the general consumer in order to be dealt with more effectively. So of course I have been happy in seeing the topic being highlighted much more by the media in the last year or so. It is something which I would really like to get involved in supporting in my last year of uni with an organisation called FoodCycle, and in fact I am even considering writing my dissertation on the subject, but I’m sure I will blog on that should and when it happens in due course.

Which leads me onto the programme which was broadcast by BBC1 yesterday called “Great British Waste Food “modelled on the much loved (by myself at least) Great British Food series. However, I am writing this in a bit of a rant over certain gripes I found myself having whilst watching the programme, as informative and mostly well researched as it was.

Firstly, the programme was quick in labelling consumers as the biggest percentage that waste food. However in the same sentence also named farmers / processing plants and supermarkets as big wasters; yet it surprised me that it didn’t mention those who are much more in denial of their problem – food manufacturers – who from experience I would say are definitely at the top of Food Waste percentage chain overall (although of course some are now starting to try and do their bit – usually as a cost cutting exercise but hooray anyway). I am aware this was a programme aimed at consumers but I think a generalised thought (not fact) should not be reported as such on a programme highlighting the issue – however much consumers do of course need to do their bit and more awareness is needed that just because their fridge contents have gone past the best before, does not mean they must slam the bin lid down on it.

Secondly, why was the programme used to cater for a group of 50 or so food journalists and others from a elite type world who can buy as much food as they want whenever they want, when instead it could have been used to fed some of those in this country who are living on the poverty line, which would have further illustrated just how food waste could be turned into something hugely positive. I will applaud Fareshare on this instead then…

And lastly, the programme seemed to suggest that the produce that was rejected from the processing line deemed for supermarkets would instead be dumped or sent for animal feed because it was not perfect shape or was blemished – which I found hugely misleading as ultimately it is not true. I understand that it was highlighting how consumers contribute to food waste just by (apparently) demanding perfect looking fruit and veg to buy. However, such produce that does not make it to supermarket shelves would instead be graded as a lower class and would go to food manufacturers to use in products such as Jam or soup where the actual visual aspects are irrelevant. Animal food tends to be the very last resort.

As for the use of offal in dog food – well if it wasn’t made with these cuts, it would still be made with something animal related and there is not much left after the meat and offal has been used up for us. Would you rather offal on your plate and sirloin for the pedigree? Your choice.

Nevertheless, the huge amounts of waste are being highlighted, and important people are sitting up and taking notice. Maybe it is the start of a food revolution. I hope so at least. I will gladly support a change in attitudes surrounding our food we put on the table.

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Urban agriculture is on the rise – demand for allotments in London has become huge in recent years, but how about this; a new revolutionary way to feed the masses, but without the need for vast expanses of land?

Forum for the Future yesterday published a document proposing the notion of Vertical Farming – high standing buildings built in urban areas with limited plot space, filled with stack upon stack of food and energy crops, generated using hydroponic technology. On one hand it makes sense – food grown in such buildings could be deemed local to the community it is grown in, which of course means a reduced carbon footprint. The obvious advantage is the lack of space needed, and the hydroponic system’s water could be recycled to minimise waste. Proposed energy consumption would also be much lower due to the lack of traditional farming methods – i.e. no big tractors dependant on fossil fuels.

Artist impression: vertical farming

I particularly like the idea of farm ‘pods’ designed to sit on people’s rooftops to capture maximum sun rays – much like a rooftop greenhouse and I think this is a concept which could easily catch on were the funding from the government available. However, on a more commercial scale, I think a wide scale rollout operation may be risky. It is currently not a widely known system, and therefore if anything were to fail, our whole food system of this country may become extremely unstable with us falling back on imported goods to sustain the people.

Additionally, I would like to know exactly where and how these ‘nutrient rich solutions’ on which the plants would be feed are coming from – it is all well and good the building minimising waste but are these supplies upon which it relies also sustainable?

It sounds like something from science fiction and an exciting one at that, but is it a good idea the future for our food industry? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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