Eat More Plants
In this episode
To start the episode Mick is travelling to Wexford to the EPA to find out about the current level of Food Waste here in Ireland. We then head to Dublin to chat to Irish Times journalist Conor Pope to gage the public perception on Food waste. We then go in search of some projects that are trying to make a difference when it comes to end food waste
We chat with Bernie from Falling Fruit, a volunteer led organisation, who collect would-be wasted apples from private orchards including Aventine Gardens in Dublin. Mick then looks at how technology can play its part in food waste as we jump on a call with Jamie Crummie, the founder of technology App “Too Good to Go” and see the reach of online platforms. Next, we’re heading to Cork to see how Virgina O’Gara from My Goodness food company is trying to change policy in the English Market when it comes to food waste and to finish we visit chef Conor Spacey who runs numerous zero waste kitchens all over Ireland and England with his company Food Space.
- “The State of Play” – EPA, Odile Le Bolloch. Wexford
- “The Public’s View” – Journalist, Conor Pope, Dublin
- “Grassroots Project” – Falling Fruit, Bernie Brannick, Dublin
- “Technology plays it part” – Too Good To Go, Jamie Crummie, London
- “Closing the Loop” – My Goodness Café, Virginia O’Gara, Cork
- “Zero Waste Food” – Food Space, Chef, Conor Spacey, Galway
Conor Spacey is the Culinary Director of FoodSpace Ireland, which operates outlets through the country in BNI, pharmaceuticals, education and high street operations. Conor is very focussed on providing a sustainable food system that involves seasonal Irish ingredients, working directly with farmers across the country and implementing a zero waste policy that also reduces carbon footprint.
Conor Pope is an Irish journalist, author and broadcaster who works for The Irish Times as well as appearing on radio and television as a consumer advocate.
Founder of Falling Fruit– a project to harvest the seasonal glut of local fruit (apples, pears, plums, nuts, etc.) throughout the Dublin area, and countrywide, and to give it to charities that cater for those in need. Each year hundreds of fruit trees go unpicked. Falling Fruit organises a team of volunteers to pick the surplus fruit and distribute it to local charities or other good causes. We liaise with Foodcloud.ie and other charities for distribution of the fruit.
Also Co-Founder of We Share Ireland– a community to give, teach, lend and swap with each other – and all for free.
When you’ve grown your own food from seed and avoided all the pitfalls along the way, you can’t help but feel entitled to every last bit of the harvest. You are really inclined to ensure that nothing goes to waste. What can’t be eaten straight away is preserved, saved, stored and of course, whatever is inedible is composted to break down and return to the soil. This is an example of a climate friendly ‘food empathy’ behaviour that comes naturally from growing your own food.
Research by the EPA has shown that Irish people generally have a strong understanding of use-by and best before dates, but this is not translating in to good food management behaviours around dates, with 52% of people saying food passing the best before date is one of the main reasons they throw food away!
Stop Food Waste have an amazing guide which really is the best resource for delving deeper. Find the Green Stop Food Waste Guide HERE . There are also lots of supports for businesses so check out the Food Waste Charter HERE.
When food is wasted, all the resources used in bringing food to our tables are wasted too. Food waste is a significant contributor to climate change generating around 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The problem is spread right across the supply chain, starting with the route from farm to retailer. Reducing food waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tonnes and tonnes of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day.
Globally, around 14% of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, while an estimated 17% of total global food production is wasted (11% in households, 5% in the food service and 2% in retail).
The responsibility for food waste doesn’t rest solely with those putting food into our hands. We all need to play our part, both in business and in our households. In Ireland, the average household wastes €700 or more worth of food a year, and in commercial sector that figure it’s a lot higher. So we all have an economic incentive as well as the environmental incentive to make a change.
When food is wasted, all the resources that were used to produce that food – including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste as well. In addition, the disposal of food waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Food waste can also negatively impact food availability, and contribute to increasing the cost of food.
Food Waste is a complex global issue and this episode explores the topic through the eyes of producers, experts and growers here in Ireland.
Did You Know?
Food Waste is Bananas!
All food waste is bananas really.. But how often have we bought bananas only for some or all of them to end up in the bin, uneaten. What a waste of the consumer’s money, the farmer’s effort and all the energy and resources that went into packing and transporting them to the other side of the world. But it’s not just overripe bananas that end up in the bin. In Ireland, the foods wasted most often are bread, fruit and vegetables. And food waste that does go into general waste bins ends up in landfills or, in Ireland, more commonly incinerated.
But what happens to the food waste that does go into general waste bins and ends up in landfills. Well, rubbish in landfills decomposes slowly. Tightly packed and compressed, there is no air in a landfill, so decomposition is anaerobic and one of the by-products is the greenhouse gas methane. Methane is a very powerful pollutant – it’s the same gas produced by burping cows – and a key reason food waste is such a significant contributor to climate change. Overall food waste is responsible for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Making changes in our home around how we manage food can all add up to creating a less wasteful nation and a healthier planet, with less food being wasted and contributing to harmful methane being released into the atmosphere.
And if we waste less food, in turn we show our respect for the farmers and growers who produce it and we increase the likelihood that everyone on the planet will have access to nutritious food.
Did You Know?
After reducing avoidable food waste, the next thing you can do is make sure that any food waste you do produce is either placed in your food waste (brown) bin or is composted at home. So, if you don’t have a household brown bin enquire with your waste provider and see if you can get one – waste service providers are legally obliged to supply brown bins to customers living in villages and towns with populations greater than 500 people.
If you have a garden, get a composter or wormery for your food scraps – the resulting homemade compost can be used to return essential nutrients to your soil.
And, if you have an apartment consider a Bokashi (a Japanese fermentation system) or a mini wormery – both options are ideal for turning food waste into compost in small spaces.
Practical Steps you can take
Individual action can make a big difference when it comes to food waste. Check out Stop Food Waste, the national campaign to reduce household food waste in Ireland, for easy tips we can all take to change how we plan, store and cook food. Making small changes will save money and time, and lessen our impact on the environment. To get you started, here are some things you can do at home to help prevent food waste:
Know what food you waste the most:
- Find out what food you waste and why – record your food waste for one week to identify what types of food you waste most. By knowing what food you waste, you can see where you can take action and make savings on your food bill
- Know what you are going to eat – plan your meals for a few days to know what food you need to buy.
- Make a shopping list – to keep you on track while you’re shopping.
- Only buy what you need – get into the habit of looking in cupboards, the fridge and the freezer before you go to the shop. Or take a picture of your fridge so you can check in on what you already have.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry – this is a recipe for disaster, because you’re much more likely to over buy when your empty stomach is essentially doing the decision making.
- Avoid multipacks – or getting sucked into 3-for-2 deals, unless you are sure you will use everything.
- Remove veg from plastic bags – this stops them ‘sweating’ in the bag while in storage and going off more quickly.
- When plans change, use your freezer – you can freeze more than you think, such as bread, onions and cheese, allowing you to keep food fresher for longer and use it another time
- Understand more about use-by and best before dates and make use-by dates work for you – use or freeze food before it passes the use-by date
- Learn preservation methods – start fermenting, preserving and pickling fresh fruit and veg so you can eat them throughout the year. For example, make a batch of tomato sauce with a glut of ripened tomatoes or jam with blackberries in autumn.
- Keep an eye on portion size and measure what you need – a tip that is good for your health, as well as avoiding waste from uneaten food.
- Learn to love leftovers – get creative and use them in another meal. Don’t forget that many dishes including stews and casseroles taste even better on the second day as the flavours develop.
- Store leftovers safely – ideally pop them in the freezer, but do remember to label them carefully; when frozen foods can be hard to identify.