Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Most people know that a lot of food goes into the trash. In the Netherlands the total amound wasted in restaurants, supermarkets and at peoples homes is about 30% of all food. For some items, like bread, it can be up to 50%. When we heard this for the first time in a documentory we felt indignation. But what could we do about it? We are wasting very little to nothing at home, never eat in restaurants, but does it make a change?
Much of this food comes from very far away. Apples from New Zealand, meat from Brazil or Argentina, fruit from South Africa or Israel, vegetables from Africa, cereals (for bread) from Ukraina, etc. It costs a lot of energy to transport it here. Also, because of the large demand, prices go up and poor people cannot afford to buy their rice or vegies any more. And then, at the end of the chain, 1/3 of it is thrown away!
Recently we made some new friends in Utrecht. They explained us all about a process called dumpster diving in the US or skipping in the UK. We call it 'skippen' in the Netherlands. A few times a week, around 10pm they go out with a group of people to check the containers behind supermarkets. They take out all the food and bring it home to distribute it among a big circle of friends.
About 2 months ago they introduced us to this secret world of midnight shopping. It has changed our lives. From that moment on we haven't bought food again in supermarkets. We live in great abundance of everything and still bring food to everyone we visit. Finally we feel like we are doing something about the waste problem. Hopefully supermarkets, restaurants and individuals will change the way they go shopping and one day we will have to go through the front door again.
In the main time, what can you do?
1. If you buy products with an expiry date, like milk or meat, don't take the ones from the back with the longest keeping time. Take the ones in the front, they won't go off before you use it, and if it does, buy less of it next time. Consider to take the ugglier looking fruits and vegetables, they will taste the same and otherwise they will be wasted.
2. Consider shopping in health food stores and other smaller shops. They have different rules and usually don't throw away any food, they give older products to their employers.
3. Don't expect that all the shelves of supermarkets have to be always full. This is one of the reasons so much food gets wasted.
4. If food in your fridge or cupboards is out of date, don't throw it away. Look at it very well, smell very well, taste a little; very likely that it will still be fine. You can keep most things many years after they have expired. Even eggs and yoghurt go a few weeks longer and milk a few days. And your nose will tell when it is not good any more.
5. Once a week, take a big pot and make a soup of all your leftovers. Use a mixer, add some salt and pepper, lovely. If you have uggly fruit, use a blender to make a smoothy or a milk shake. A great way to eat more fruits.
6. Go for a stroll late at night and take a big bag with you. Walk around your local supermarket and see if there is a big metal dumpster. Have a look what is inside. Take what you like, you are doing a good thing, food shouldn't be wasted. And it is a lot of fun.