Food Waste and Climate Change

Our Background

When Little Chefs Big Chefs CIC was started, it was set up with the intent of educating all ages, particularly children of the skills and knowledge needed to cook. Afterall, we all need to eat and ideally, consume food that nourishes the body and soul.

As we started to collect surplus foods, there was a realisation that food waste was a massive problem, not only from supermarkets but in restaurants and at home too. Upon researching and unearthing the gravitas of the impact of food waste on our environment, I became engrossed and shocked at how something many of us don’t think about once it goes in the bin, can contribute to climate change.

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Our LCBC Community Pantry Story

The idea for our LCBC Community Pantry came about over 3 years ago as a reaction to this. Offering this perfectly edible food to the community not only helps to reduce food waste, but as we only ask for a low service contribution reflective of what food is taken, this helps keep more pennies in the pocket of those accessing it.

We believe all food has value; the resources, fertilisers and water used to produce it, time spent ‘nurturing’ it, the processing, transportation and storage needed to get it to your plate all come with their own impact on the environment and don’t come for free.

Why we are concerned about food waste

When we break down this impact, this brings up quite alarming figures:

So how does food waste affect the environment?

When food waste goes to landfill, which is where the vast majority of it ends up, it decomposes without access to oxygen (unlike composting) and creates methane. Methane is 23 times more deadly than carbon dioxide. Both of these greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, i.e. global warming.

How does global warming affect our planet?

So what can we do at home?

We can value our food: Even if food is inexpensive, appreciate the time, energy, resources, transportation and storage that has gone into bringing it to you.

Rethink dates on food. Best before dates are only there to give a reference for quality, but even so, the food is still edible after this. Even if apples have gone a bit wrinkly, bread has gone a bit stale or hard cheese has developed a bit of mould, think outside of the box. Bake apples in a crumble (and please don’t waste valuable fibre by peeling), refresh bread by quickly running under water then pop it in the oven or freeze and use as needed and cut the mould off cheese, it is perfectly fine to eat (this does not apply to semi soft cheeses such as brie or camembert).

Storage: It may seem obvious, but check how you store food. E.g. bread belongs in a bread bin or dark cupboard, not in the fridge, store potatoes in a dark bag or cupboard, fruit (with the exception of bananas) is best kept in the fridge. For more foods and storage recommendations, see Love Food Hate Waste Food Storage

Check the temperature: Your fridge should be kept at a temperature between 3 – 5c, your freezer should be between 18 – 23c. Invest in a fridge thermometer if you can. Keep your freezer relatively full as other frozen foods help to maintain the temperature and prevent the compressor from over working. However, do not overstock your fridge as the cold air needs to circulate.

Plan your shopping: This not only will save you money but help reduce food waste too. Draw up menus for the week then write a shopping list of items you will need. Better still, base your menus around food you already have in stock.

Love your leftovers: Don’t just bin leftovers, make them into a completely new meal. Most supermarket websites have a recipe section and even typing in ‘leftovers’ on a search engine will bring up a mass of ideas. Also try Love Food Hate Waste Recipes

Portion control: If you are not going to use up that mass of pasta, rice etc. the next day, make sure you measure out your food to avoid it going to waste Love Food Hate Waste Portion Planner

Compleat your food: This means eat every edible part. That means food such as the stalks on broccoli – slice thinly and cook with the florets, avoid peeling (or use veg peelings to make ‘crisps’), if cutting off bread crusts, bake them in the oven to make ‘breadsticks’ for dips – try drizzling them with oil, smoked paprika/curry power and a sprinkle of salt beforehand, use cauliflower leaves in a stir fry or just cook like cabbage (they are also delicious tossed in soy sauce and baked), beetroot leaves can be used like spinach, use the stalks of herbs at the beginning of cooking, shred the heart of cabbage or cauliflower to make a coleslaw and use the water you use to cook your veg to make sauces or soup or even freeze as stock.