Do you know its edible?

There has been a lot made of food waste in the newspapers this past few days. Starting with a bold headline, on Wednesday, “£1000 a year, per household, thrown away”, blaming BOGOF offers and confusing date labels. Then today the supermarkets refuted the claims. The plain fact is that food IS thrown away by households every day. Food that is perfectly edible!

Any packed food now has a date. Best Before; Sell by; Use By; All have been invented and used for reasons that may be completely different to what you think they are and use them for. Most are just a guide for the consumer but are used for stock rotation and tracking during transportation.

From the dawn of the ‘Supermarket’ in the 60’s and the advent of refrigeration for all, the consumer has lost the knowledge once passed down from Mother to Child. Food became so cheap and plentiful it didn’t matter. Then Government, Supermarket Buyers and the Health Departments got involved! Dates ruled!
cooked meatsbut they didn’t teach us what they ment, what they were there for.

I was eleven before we had a fridge, 14 before a freezer came in the house. My grandparents lived with us and had never had refrigeration, shops didn’t have refrigeration. We relied on a bucket of water and a damp cloth over the food, a marble shelved larder room and a concrete lined hole in the ground in the north side of the garden in the shade of a tree. I learnt to use my eyes, smell and feel. Here are the rules I use, they may not be verified, been assessed by the food hygienic etc but I and my family have never had food poisoning. We also use a hierarchy, an order of use.

FRUIT; is the easiest to tell if it’s ‘fresh’ (although if it’s january and your buying strawberry’s?!) But wrinkly apples/pears are fine to cook into pies and crumbles, even fruit leathers (Yummy). Brown Banana’s are good for cooking in cake or Banoffee pie. I will even dry slices of fruit to store and use later in the year as a compot over porridge. And of course you can freeze them till you have enough for jams!

meat MEAT; 1st does it look mouldy/green/off? then does it have a smell? If it passes these 2 is it slimy to the touch (especially for cooked meats)?

FISH; will get you with a strong ammonia smell before any other indicator!

cheeseCHEESE; is the most misconceived! 2 Weeks before Christmas I was in a supermarket looking at a pack of mixed cheese with a short date and heavily reduced! The lady next to me commented That while it’s a bargain it’s no good for Christmas because of the sell by date!
The traditional hard cheese making method includes long term storage in cool, dark, dry conditions to mature for anything up to 5 years. Soft cheese, such as brie need a cool/warmish room to ‘mature’ and get runny! My favourite, Blue vein/Stilton style cheeses, are in fact veined with mould! so if you find mould on a cheese at home just cut it off! (Hubbie and I constantly argue on that one).

Our hierarchy is as follows;
Fresh and seasonal bought in regular amounts or home grown are best.
Next, a little old maybe dry or wrinkled use it in cooking and preserving.
Next; feed it to your chickens/pigs (or a friends one)
Last; uncooked veg and fruit matter is fit for a compost bin.
cooked food is turned into soups, casseroles, pie fillings and savoury additions to mince, rice or a ommlett.

With care full menu planning, shopping list and buying only what you need for the next few days, you can stop any food waste. Councils and organisations can do more with anaerobic digestion (similar to composting) but fuel and soil conditioners can be derived from it (but that’s another blog subject)


5 responses to “Do you know its edible?

  1. We really have lost some very basic knowledge about food, and it’s amazing how much perfectly edible food gets chucked regularly. People are far to quick to throw away something that’s not perfect. Thanks for the practical tips.

    • Thanks for your comment. The trouble is more deep-seated than just the consumers lack of knowledge! Supermarkets have spent 10’s of years promoting the perfect, seasonless displays we are used to.There demand on the grower has been turned into a demand from the customer (but it is no more than a perseption). They will push the grower/producer into a corner over size/shape/blemish quality. I have seen acres of lettuce plowed back because they were 10mm to small or large to meet the contract and the farmer left with no time to find a buyer for shop ready goods.

  2. Good to know there still more out there with food common sense. Not long ago a friend of mine was utterly shocked to find out that British apples in the supermarket had been in a warehouse for 3 months even before they got to the supermarket, she was outraged, there was no way they could still be safe to consume! This was in about April so I just asked her when she’d thought they’d been harvested, she still didn’t get it. We harvested apples when I was a kid, stored them correctly, and were still finishing them off when the next harvest began! Did the same with potatoes, turnips etc etc etc..

    It’s not just food safety we’re loosing our commons sense over (thought being overfed rules and regulations and supposedly helpful information) but knowledge of where, and how, our food is grown and comes from. The kids who don’t recognise a carrot with green stuff at the top, people who throw out vegetables for being dirty, the woman in Morrisons on Christmas Eve moaning about the price and wondering why they are so much more expensive in winter than summer.

    • Oh yes, my point exactly!
      Oh my I feel another blogg comming on (or is it a rant!) Having grown veg as long as I can remember, I still cant belive someone would want fresh strawberries at christmas or rhubarb in september. Even meat/fish has a season (benifit of living in rural locations)
      We even nearly got chucked out of a rare breed farm cause my 4 year old chased lambs shouting ‘mint sauce’ and telling a rather cute chick that it would be good with cranberries when it grew up!

      • I know someone who does that sort of thing, only you can times the age by 10 and add a decade too! Embarrassing!

        We need a food knowledge campaign. Not another of those patronisingly daft healthy ones about stuff most know anyway because it’s promoted so heavily they’d have be deaf, blind, totally illiterate and friendless not to have any idea that pizza and fizzy drinks are not actually good for you, nice now and then but not good for you. And they can keep trying to get those who don’t how to cook to do so but without understanding the basics of food and where it comes from they’ll never really manage it, they’re just learning how to read and follow a recipe, take away the recipe or remove an ingredient and they’re lost again!

        It’s a bit of a thing of mine and something I bore my own kids with regularly 🙂

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