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Eating community – style and other antidotes to food waste

February 3, 2013

Recently the news was about food waste and looked at the huge amount of food thrown away both commercially and at home. It seems to reflect half of our food and highlights people’s comprehension (or lack of) regarding the sell-by, use-by concepts.

By taking another view- addressing quantities that go onto our plates offers the opportunity to change a practice that will make a difference in how much we waste. Inspired by the book ‘The Last Chinese Chef”, I’ve changed the way food is served at home on a daily basis and when entertaining. The author Nicole Mones beautifully describes the tradition of eating as a community. Platters of food are placed on the table and everyone helps themselves; an activity of social grace and elegance, so practical yet so much more. Serving in this style permits everyone to help themselves and portion according to their appetites and tastes. The cook is rewarded with clean plates and leftovers for another day (rather than scrapings for the trash).  New ways of relating and eating will evolve as people sit together and share food.

Some further suggestions to challenge food waste:

  • Detox your store cupboard, check dates on dry and tinned goods and give them away if you don’t think you’ll use them before they’ll expire. Exchange supplies with friends, organise bring and swap food events. Donate unopened items still in date.
  • Learn how to store, preserve and extend the life of foods, safely. More about this in future blogs.
  • Shop more frequently buying vegetables and fruits in smaller sizes and quantities and where bulk items are available for you to measure amounts.
  • Shop with a friend and split items that are larger than you can use. Examples: heads of celery, cabbage, chicken, loaves of bread, cream and some dry and tinned goods. Of course we all end up wondering what to do with that odd ingredient needed for just one recipe. Share it with a nearby friend or friends who can make the same recipe and distribute the ingredient around. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to try something new and have the ingredient readily available and at a fraction of the cost. Spices, beans, grains, vegetables and fruits come to mind here such as jars of Thai curry paste, coconut milk, nuts, etc.
  • Prepare kitchen table foods, see ‘My Kitchen Table Casserole’, using up bits of meat, fish, vegetables, cheeses, herbs in soups, stews, quiches, tarts, omelettes, savoury pies, etc. Get the children involved for wildly imaginative ideas.
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