Blaise Tapp: Are we really a nation of food wasters?

MOST WASTED: One of the most wasted foods are potatoes.
MOST WASTED: One of the most wasted foods are potatoes.
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Some of us sniff, some prod, while others will take a leap of faith and disregard all of the obvious warning signs and will merrily tuck into ‘out of date’ food.

But these larder mavericks are increasingly becoming a rare breed it seems as we are regularly told we are a nation of wasters.

The statistics show that, each year, the average family bungs away food worth £700 and could have eaten an estimated £470 of it, according to those who know all about what goes into our bins.

One of the most ‘wasted’ foods are potatoes, with nearly half of the edible fresh spuds bought each day ending up in the pedal bin along with the tea bags and the empty Flora pot.

To give it context, 5.8 million King Edwards, Maris Pipers and, heaven forbid, Jersey Royals are sent to landfill before they get the chance to contribute to a Shepherd’s Pie or the working man’s favourite, egg and chips.

In all, we sling £230m worth of spuds each year, just 
because they have gone a tad wrinkly or are way past the ‘best before’ dates on the packaging – don’t get me started on the plastic packaging on vegetables.

These uncomfortable figures come from Love Food Hate Waste, an organisation which says we can halve food waste by 2025. As a long standing sniffer and one who has disregarded ‘best before’ and ‘sell by dates’ for all of his adult life, I completely agree with all efforts to reduce food waste in this country.

I hate waste and, I am afraid to say, I channel my parents from 30 years ago and earnestly urge my kids to think of all the starving children in the world whenever they turn their noses up at anything that is served with green stuff.

I will hang onto food until it is on its last legs; black bananas, shrivelled satsumas and even bouncy cheddar will all be consumed by yours truly.

This is largely why I applauded the decision by the Co-Op in the east of England to sell a selection of food, including rice, couscous, biscuits and pasta, for 10p once its sell by date has expired. I am only sorry that we don’t live in the east of England, although Mrs Tapp is relieved.

I don’t get the snobbery around ‘out of date’ foods, especially when the cost of filling up a trolley has shot up in recent months – my own weekly shopping bill has increased by at least £15 this year.

Like an increasing number of shoppers, the first place I head for when entering a supermarket is the reduced items shelves and if it hangs about in my fridge for a day or two longer, then where is the harm in that?

Having said that, my lack of respect for the food industry’s approach to dating produce does not extend to my kids – while they are expected to clear their plates, they are yet to develop their old man’s cast iron stomach but give them time.

What is clear is that food producers, retailers and industry regulators need to do more to encourage consumers to hang onto their food for longer.

If nothing else, it would put an end to folk sniffing the contents of their fridge.