Not a trifling amount

I keep seeing stories in the (not-so-mainstream) media about food waste. Apparently 30-40% of all food produced globally is never eaten because it is “spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers” (The Guardian, April, 2016). And this is something that individuals are, to a significant extent, responsible for. According to Climate Central “The USDA estimates 35 percent of turkey meat cooked at Thanksgiving gets wasted.” If you want to see some more detailed facts and figures for the US, there’s a fascinating report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that’s well worth a read. There are high production losses worldwide, but consumer waste is significant in North America, Oceania and Europe, as can be seen from this graph form the World Economic Forum:which-regions-waste-the-most-food_1024

Obviously, the less food that is wasted, the more people can be fed, but the issue goes much deeper than this: waste food in landfill releases methane – a greenhouse gas with a much greater impact than carbon dioxide; the land used for agriculture is land not supporting native vegetation, and thus adversely affecting biodiversity; crops require water, so if we are wasting crops we are wasting water. If you want to read more, I recommend the FAO report Food wastage footprint: Impacts on natural resources.

Because food waste is something that we are almost all responsible for to some extent, it’s a problem that we can all do something about. And it’s a win-win situation – save the planet and save money.

So, when I made a disastrous batch of cupcakes last week, rather than compost them, I made a trifle…

IMGP2915 (2)

trifle before the whipped cream was added

This also helped to use some of the abundance of eggs that we have. I think Mr Snail is hoping for many more cake failures, since he loves trifle. See, avoiding food waste can be fun!

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  1. Genius! That trifle looks delicious. Using up leftovers is a great prompt for culinary creativity, isn’t it? Some of my favourite made-up recipes have been born of the necessity of using up something before it goes off!

    • I agree… really it’s only laziness on my part that leads to wasted food and when I’m feeling creative, we often end up having lovely meals based around left-overs.

  2. From time to time I too find something lurking at the back of the fridge or the bottom of the fruit bowl with a green fur coat on it or make. ‘Burnt offering’. Even though I know that it is too unpleasant or unsafe to eat and I put it into the compost bin rather than the dustbin I still feel guilty. My parents grew up during WW2 when food was rationed and throwing away a crust was a crime – literally! What a change of attitude in a few generations.

  3. Laurie Graves

     /  May 22, 2017

    Clif and I try very hard not to waste food, and mostly we succeed. However, once in a while something slips by us. But not too often as leftovers are our friends πŸ˜‰

  4. Expiration dates in the U.S. are a problem. They are usually set long before a product will actually spoil. And the sad thing is that a lot of our food banks for the hungry won’t take them either. Everybody is afraid of a law suit!

    • That is a shame. I’m all for using common sense about whether something is edible, but I do compost things I’m not sure of. Our council takes food waste for composting too, so things that I’m not happy to put in the compost bin at home can be sent for municipal processing.

  5. I had to look up to see exactly what a Trifle actually is. Appears to be a mash of layers meeting loose requirements for ingredients. Example, bad batch of cupcakes are most certainly spongy πŸ™‚

    We try not to waste food in our house and I almost always will take any dinner leftovers to work with me the next day for lunch. I tend to be better at determining just how much is needed with little leftovers, but my wife always seems to cook for a family of 10 and I end up eating leftovers for nearly a week or so :-/ Not my favorite thing to do depending on what she made……

    Burns me up when I see people wasting food. One of the reasons I stopped going to all you can eat buffets, because food waste is part of their business model.

    • Ah, yes, trifle isn’t an American staple is it? Basically it’s cake, fruit, custard and cream. The cupcakes went in the base, then I poured over some raspberry liqueur, added some raspberries (last years from the garden and frozen), made custard from eggs, sugar and cream and topped it off with whipped cream. It’s not my favourite dessert, but Mr Snail LOVES it.
      We don’t have many all you can eat buffet places in the UK, but I much prefer a decent restaurant anyway, with good quality, preferably locally produced food, where there tends to be little waste.

  6. Trifle is one of my favourite treats from childhood, but Mum always made it with fruit and cake sponge, and a jelly as a setting agent – with a layer of custard, then cream, on top – lovely stuff! πŸ™‚

  7. I was astonished a few years ago when I found out that a really large percentage of crops never gets picked!! Here there is a group of farmers who have organized and when they can’t harvest a field of broccoli or some such, they call food banks and churches that will come get it and donate it. Gleaning–a very old practice! I do my best to finish up food, but sometimes something spoils. Good for you with that trifle!

    • Oh yes, I’ve come across mention of gleaning a couple of times recently – it sounds like a fantastic thing to help avoid waste.

      • Yes, it requires organizations of volunteers in place as well as farmers, and food banks that can take fresh food. We get about 10,000 lbs a year from gleaning. Our farmers at markets give away what they didn’t sell as well, so we do pick ups from farmers markets as well. Not sure of poundage there, but it’s more than the gleaning…

  8. Trifle…yummmm!!!

  9. I am still at a loss to understand how so much food is being wasted by individuals. It’s a very rare day when Mr. Husband and I toss out any food because we plan our shopping and I plan my cooking based on what produce will go bad first. Leftovers are then eaten the next day or put in the freezer for later. What I truly hate is when people go to restaurants, eat a quarter of what’s served, and then don’t take the leftovers home – I get not wanting to eat everything in one sitting, but to just see that plate of food being tossed out irks me to no end.

    • Our council takes food waste for composting. Everyone has a special bin and ours hardly gets used, but I see other people’s overflowing every week… I don’t know what’s in them.
      I love the culture in the US of taking food home from restaurants, here in the UK it is generally considered odd, and I have even been refused when I have asked!

      • I think that is part of my intimidation of going to restaurants while in Europe. I know the portions aren’t as big as in the US, but if I want to take home part of my meal, I don’t want to feel weird about it. The city I live in hasn’t gotten on the compost bandwagon, but I do keep a compost bin the garden.


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