Thursday, January 27

‘Don’t buy like you’re under siege’: How to avoid food waste at Christmas | Christmas


For many people, Christmas is about eating and drinking, but it’s easy to get carried away – not just eating too much, but buying too much and then throwing it away.

“It only lasts a couple of days, so don’t buy like you’re under siege for a month,” says Rob Percival, the Soil associationhead of food policy.

“Resist the urge to buy a huge turkey that will never end and will end up in the bin once you’ve exhausted ideas for using the leftovers.”

Worldwide, households discard 74 kg of food per person, according to UN data, and food waste and loss account for about 10% of the emissions that cause the climate emergency. If food waste were a country, it would have the third highest emissions after the United States and China.

Free-Raised Norfolk Bronze Turkeys
Free-range bronze turkeys are raised more slowly in less crowded conditions. Photograph: Tim Graham / Getty Images

“We’re too casual about throwing away our food,” says Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability for the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose.

“The reality is that food waste generates six times more greenhouse gases than aviation. When we throw away food, we waste the precious resources that go into growing, packaging, and transporting it, and when it rots in landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Therefore, the simple act of throwing food away has a more negative impact on our planet than people realize. “

Take time to think about the number of people you will be serving and find out exactly how many meals you will need to prepare. Remember to keep in mind that some will be made up of leftovers from the main Christmas dinner.

Kendall Zaluski, chef tutor at Waitrose Cookery School in central London, says: “If you keep it traditional and opt for turkey, buy the right size for the number of people you will be cooking for. Waitrose clearly indicates on the package how many people it will serve. “

Woman preparing Christmas table
As you begin to organize, take time to think about the number of people you are serving. Photograph: Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

Many other vendors offer that kind of guidance, or if you’re buying from a butcher they should be able to advise you.

Also online, you can easily find information on the roast size you need for the number of people you are serving.

For anyone trying to reduce their environmental footprint, eating less and better meat is a simple mantra to follow.

Most turkeys eaten in December are intensively raised indoors and fed cheap soybeans, which is linked to deforestation, so it is important to select your bird carefully. If you can afford it, the Soil Association urges buyers to buy an organic bird or consider other proteins.

At a time when food prices are rising anyway, ecology comes at a price. Poultry cost more, and the worker shortage plaguing the industry means you probably need to order well in advance.

“If an organic bird is not feasible, then look for free breeding and guaranteed welfare options,” says Percival. “If you’re buying a stable-raised turkey, look for a Bronze bird, which has been raised more slowly in less crowded conditions.”

At Tesco, for example, a basic turkey wreath is priced online at £ 7.95 a kilo, while free range is £ 15 a kilo and organic is £ 19 a kilo.

If these alternatives don’t work, consider grass-fed beef or lamb, or ditch the meat entirely for a vegetarian or vegan centerpiece.

Another way to limit the environmental impact of your dinner is to avoid exotic vegetables. Just stick with traditional sides like potatoes, sprouts, carrots, leeks, and parsnips, which are in season.

If you can, buy loose veggies to cut down on packaging and get the exact amounts you need.

If you need help figuring out how much to buy, Zaluski suggests allowing a large handful of vegetables for each person and two root vegetables, such as carrots or parsnips. She thinks a large potato for each is enough (maybe an extra one for every fourth person, just in case).

Felicity Cloake's Christmas Nut Roast.
One sustainable option is to ditch the meat for a vegetarian or vegan centerpiece: Felicity Cloake’s Christmas Nut Roast. Photograph: Emma Lee / The Guardian

Another holiday favorite, cheese, has a high carbon footprint, so be careful when stocking the fridge.

All is not lost if you have a lot of turkey left over, says Zaluski. It is a versatile food to incorporate into other meals with the perfect carcass as a base for broths or sauce: “I like to grill the carcass for a more intense flavor. This is a great way to produce as much flavor as possible, as the roast caramelizes the small pieces of meat that are still attached. “

Another way to make greener decisions about what you eat during the holiday period is to look for B-Corp certified food and beverage brands.

On both the Ocado and Waitrose websites, you can navigate virtual aisles dedicated to thousands of products, including beer, wine, spirits, and chocolates, from companies that are part of the ethical scheme.


www.theguardian.com

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