I’ve become a food wastage nag….

…But I don’t apologise for it. Are people wasting more food these days? Caring less? Or am I just becoming increasingly obsessed? A lot of all three, me thinks.

Shooting for I Quit Sugar 2
Shooting for I Quit Sugar 2

I’ve been working on a food shoot for my next book. That’s me above making sauerkraut, with my mallet from the toolbox. I’ve been flying a bit interstate, too, passing through food wastage hot-spots (in-transit eateries). And I’ve been eating out and at other people’s homes since getting back from overseas. I thought, then, it might be a good opportunity to share what I do to prevent food being wasted. I’ve been to the food wastage frontiers. Let me report back, in the desperate hope I can inspire even just one person out there (please let it be you!) to shift their ways a little.

For this is the reality:

Food wastage is the #1 environmental issue today, causing more carbon emissions than cars.

Consumers – us – are the biggest food wasters. We chuck 20% of the food we buy.

I suggest this is a conservative estimate.

So, some examples of what I did to stem the tide this week:

A swede and turnip bought for propping: cooked and mashed, frozen to top shepherd’s pie down the track. I cooked it while steaming veg for dinner that night (using a double steamer on top of the roots).

Sardines, cooked, used on shoot: I invited (forced!?) everyone to eat them…they left behind the heads and tails. I kept my heart-sinky disappointment to myself and took them home and ate on top of vegetables that night. They’re the best bits people! And I kinda think that if you’re not up for eating the whole fish, you shouldn’t be eating any of it. I know, harsh. But this is where the food landscape is at:

We need to earn our right to eat good food.

And please don’t give me the Oh But The Germs argument. We kiss our mates. We eat our lunch at our computers (which are festooned with more germs than a toilet bowl). We live in polluted cities. Some of us smoke cigarettes.

Fennel, beetroot (including the leaves) and leek bought for propping: cooked up into a soup that I took to a friend’s place, served with cream cheese (see below). I tote the ingredients and cook at her place. The leaves of the fennel went into my green smoothie.

Yoghurt bought for propping: made into cream cheese. The whey was used for making the sauerkraut.

Cabbages bought for propping: made into sauerkraut using the whey. The core of the cabbage went into my green smoothie.

My friend’s kids’ dinner: I cooked at my best mate’s place the other night, using up her leftover veg. SHIT!!! Kids waste so much food. Actually, their parents do. At my mate’s place, I showed my friend how to combine the chicken stirfry and rice they didn’t eat with an egg or two and some flour and turn into patties for lunch the next day. This was more palatable to everyone than suggesting she make them stay at the table until they were done (and not bring out fruit for dessert  when perfectly good veggies were still on their plates).

As an aside, we shot at the Bondi Organics shop on Gould St and owner Caroline – a big Love Food Hate Waste supporter – asked a Mum if she could put her kids’ muffin in a bag for her, rather than toss it. The mother looked surprised by the idea. Caroline pointed out the kid will likely be hungry in ten minutes. SHIT!!!! Why aren’t parents doing this all the time??

The baby coconut someone didn’t eat: Seriously, some people buy those baby coconuts and only drink the water, and don’t use the flesh (thinking it’s too fattening). Again. Earn the right! I scooped out the flesh, pureed it with some leftover over-ripe avocado, some coconut water and raw cacao and poured into popsicle moulds. Which I’ll eat later. Or I’ll throw into my blender with some greens and water and turn into a breakfast smoothie.

The IQS team outside Pilu
The IQS team on our lunch date

The cheese plate we didn’t finish at lunch: The IQS team and I went out to a fabulous lunch the other day to celebrate…oh, a bunch of things! By the time cheese arrived we were stuffed and we all felt bad about the waste. Rather than eat too much of the stuff because we felt compelled to, I got the waiter to put it in doggy bags.

Doggy bags, I tell you. They’re the future.

And any waiter who frowns at you when you ask for one, feel free to tell them this!

An update: Meg, a reader, commented below and alerted me to the law in NSW on doggy bags (following several people sharing they’d been told be restaurateurs that it’s illegal):

“The Food Act 2003 does not prevent restaurants from providing doggy bags but there is certainly no requirement for restaurants to do so. Customers can take along their own container (doggy bag) to take leftover food home.

It is the responsibility of the consumer to store and handle this food taken safely to minimise the risk of food poisoning.”

Thank you Meg!

The spinach side I didn’t finish at breakfast: again, a doggy bag. I know it’s only a few dollars worth of food. But every time I eat a leftover, it saves me buying (and cooking) more food.

One way or another, I’ve not had to stock up on more groceries all week.

Do you do doggy bags? What stops you if not?


Share this post