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Stop Food Waste Day: What’s it all about?

Isabel looks into what ‘Stop Food Waste Day’ involves, defines the importance of tackling global food waste and points out that the biggest opportunity for reducing this waste starts at home. Isabel also outlines a handy trick to give your stale bread a second chance.


Picture above of an Olio collection from Waitrose filling a car - and even the car boot. Image Credit: Isabel Shaw.

 

The 24th of April is Stop Food Waste Day. Founded to raise awareness of the amount of food going to waste each year, it’s now in its 7th year. 7 years on, the fight to reduce food waste is by no means over, with plenty left for both individuals and larger organisations to do.


If you’re reading this article then the chances are that you’re already aware that food waste is an issue in today’s society. Estimates for global food waste in 2022 are as high as 105 billion tonnes of waste. This does not include food loss in manufacturing, which may drive up the figures even higher. To put this into perspective, around 33% of food is ‘lost or wasted every year.

 

Individual households, supply chain issues, and big corporations are collectively responsible for this loss. They are not all equally responsible though, as 60% of food waste comes from households. The good news is that this means there is something all of us can do about food waste; it’s not just a corporate problem individuals have little effect on. This is where food waste day comes in as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and encourage the world to waste less food.

 

Stop Food Waste Day is only one day a year, but relevant resources are available all year round. New recipes which use waste products and campaign toolkits help individuals get involved with fighting food waste at different levels. The movement aims to make every day a Stop Food Waste Day, so there’s never a bad time to engage with their work.

 

If you still need motivation to get involved, it’s worth outlining just how big an impact food waste not only has on the planet, but global food security. Conservative estimates place the equivalent of 1 billion edible meals as being wasted every single day globally. This amount of food could feed ‘the equivalent of 1.3 meals’ to those affected by hunger every day. Redistributing food which would otherwise go to waste could therefore have a real impact on global food poverty.

 

It can be difficult to redistribute household food waste at the point where it would otherwise be thrown away though. The app Olio is seeking to change this by creating a platform for individuals, as well as some supermarkets and cafes, to give away food to their local community. The majority of this food probably is not going to those affected by food poverty. So far only 164 million portions of food have been shared on the app, compared to the 1 billion edible meals wasted daily globally. Other non-food items can be shared on the app too though, meaning it has still had a significant impact in reducing waste and increasing sharing within local communities.

 

Too Good To Go, another food waste-fighting app, sells discounted leftovers from shops and restaurants. It offers an opportunity for businesses to reduce their food waste by connecting them to customers who buy a ‘mystery bag’ of the food they have left at the end of the day. The company does more than just what consumers see on their app though. They’ve introduced political campaigns across the EU and US to fight food waste at an institutional level, and placed a food waste awareness label on the back of much product packaging.

 

Olio, Too Good To Go, and Stop Food Waste Day all show there are numerous ways to tackle food waste as individuals, small communities, organisations and countries. As has been illustrated in all of the statistics, food waste is a huge problem. So far this article has touched on the issues of food security which are exacerbated by food waste and ways in which some organisations are seeking to change things. But food waste is not all about redistributing food to those facing hunger. Food waste has a huge environmental impact too.

 

As the planet faces climate change, reducing our food waste offers one crucial way of reducing emissions. Up to 10% of greenhouse gases are produced by uneaten food that we have produced - this is more greenhouse gases than the aviation industry. Producing food which is not eaten is not only a waste of resources, but also only half of the problem. Decomposing food in landfill releases methane, a gas which is a worse contributor to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide.

 

As the majority of food waste comes from households, most people have the opportunity to improvement. Stop Food Waste Day is all about raising the awareness of individuals, motivating them to act, and giving them the tools to do so. If enough people get involved with reducing the amount of food they throw away, food waste has the opportunity to be a good news story. On that note, there’s a recipe below for you to try and Stop Food Waste Day and become part of a growing positive movement.


Revival Bread:

Use your old bits of stale bread to start a whole new loaf that’s got a lovely rich flavour. It can be made with sourdough instead of instant yeast too - there’s plenty of room to experiment. For a more precise recipe see James Morton’s ‘Brilliant Bread’, but I’ve made this loaf many times without measuring any ingredients and it hasn’t failed yet!


Two loaves of bread that have been refreshed from old bread that would have been wasted otherwise. Image Credit: Isabel Shaw.

 

Ingredients:

●      Leftover chunks of stale bread broken up and soaked in just enough water to cover them in the fridge overnight/for at least 4 hours.

●      Water

●      4 cups of bread flour per loaf (Strong white works well, but can be done with wholemeal for something healthier)

●      7g of instant yeast (this amounts to one sachet or a level tablespoon) per loaf

●      A good pinch of salt per loaf

 

Method:

1. Mash or blend the stale bread in the water they were soaked in until there are no lumps and the mixture is relatively smooth. Stick blenders are perfect for this!

2. Add the flour, yeast, and salt to a medium bowl and mix them together.

3. Add the soaked bread mixture slowly and stir with your hands or a spoon until it comes together to form a sticky dough. Add a little more flour or water if necessary until it holds its shape well enough to knead and leave it to stand for 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes it should be easier to knead. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it (see this useful video for some kneading options depending on your dough consistency) until it is significantly smoother and not sticking to your hands or the surface as much. It will still probably feel slightly grainy due to the old bread but this is nothing to worry about. Transfer the dough back into the bowl for around an hour or until doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

6. Gently take the bread out of the bowl and place onto a lightly floured work surface.

7. Grease a loaf tin (or bake in a preheated dutch oven for an even more golden crust, remembering to take the lid off halfway through baking it). With a light touch and taking care not to add in too much more flour at this stage, form the dough into the shape of the tin by folding over the edges. Place in the tin (or a proving basket if using a dutch oven) and leave to rest for the final time as the oven heats up. Be careful not to leave it for too long at this stage or you may end up with a hole in the middle of your loaf!

8. Score your loaf and put it in the oven with a tray or water underneath if using a loaf tin (this will stop the crust forming too fast).

9. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until the bread sounds hollow if you tap it on the bottom. It should have a dark caramel coloured crust when cooked. Adjust the cooking temperature accordingly if the loaf looks too dark/light.

10. Leave to cool completely before cutting (if you can wait that long… If not then twenty minutes should do).

11. Enjoy as part of a sandwich or with some butter and a cup of coffee!

 


About the Author: Isabel Shaw is currently studying Medical Ethics and Law at King’s College London. She’s been a food waste hero for Olio and baked many loaves of bread in an attempt to stop as many crumbs from going to waste. In her spare time she enjoys writing articles about issues she’s passionate about including food waste and veganism!

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