If you care at all about what’s on your plate and feel that we waste too much food in this country, I am seriously nagging you to watch ‘The Great British Waste Menu‘ on the BBC iPlayer. It’s essential viewing, illustrating the scary fact that one fifth of all food in the UK ends up in the bin because we’ve become a nation of picky consumers. One fifth!!! And given that we’re in the middle of a recession and that millions worldwide are underfed, this makes my blood boil. I am furious…
The programme charts the progress of four top chefs (Angela Hartnett, Richard Corrigan, Matt Tebbutt and Simon Rimmer) who have each been given the challenge to assemble the very best restaurant dishes for a banquet of 60 diners using waste ingredients only. They have to scavenge perfectly edible food from supermarket bins and beg for other produce from farms, fishermen and dairies that are forced to throw away mountains of food because the supermarkets won’t accept it for cosmetic reasons.
It makes very sobering and fascinating viewing. Three point six million tonnes of food each year in England and Wales is binned – and most of it is totally fine to eat. When the chefs embark on their task, they are all horrified by how much waste food they have access to. Matt Tebbutt visits a lettuce farm where the farmer tells him that any lettuce that isn’t the correct size or slighly blemished has to be discarded and ploughed back into the field – on one day alone 30,000 ‘non uniform’ lettuces are shredded and composted, most of which are beautiful specimens but demmed too large or small for the supermarkets. Richard Corrigan visits a fisherman who can’t sell his catch of slip soles because they are considered ‘too small’ and ‘too fiddly’ to cook and have to be discarded or sold abroad. He also visits an egg farmer who has to throw away thousands of eggs every week because they are slightly smaller than average – the supermarkets tell him that people apparently only want to buy big eggs. What total madness!
(Unrelated to this programme, my husband recently met a farmer who had such a bumper crop of potatoes last year that he couldn’t sell them due to the glut and was forced to re-compost them, costing him £200,000. I think it’s outrageous – people are going hungry and food isn’t sold or distributed in the right way.)
Anyway, I don’t want to give away what happens in The Great British Waste Menu – so make sure you watch it. It’s available on the iPlayer for two more days until Wednesday this week. Watch it here.
C’mon people – I want to hear your thoughts on food waste…are you a sell-by-date junkie? Are you fussy about the size and shape of fruits and vegetables? Do you throw away food because you buy too much? Would you buy a smaller egg?