In the final instalment of the three-part mini-series, Lauren Grindley shares her thoughts and opinions on the food waste and some final cooking tips!
As the question of ‘What’s for tea tonight?’ continues to be an important part of most people’s days, it seems like a good time to reflect on the role food has played during the national lockdown. At first, people were panic buying, stockpiling and even buying extra freezers to store food which then led to concerns about rising food insecurity and the food waste generated. Refuse collectors reported seeing a massive increase in the food in bins after the initial stock piling, including whole, unopened fresh food.
National Geographic analysed the unanticipated effects on the food system in America; for example, farmers having fewer markets to sell produce to due to the economy and school shutting down (March 30th). A week later, the University of York discussed the increased demand at food banks and inequalities in the food system being emphasised by the pandemic.
Aside from the current situation, food waste is a massive issue. UK households are responsible for 4.5 million tonnes of food waste each year, and the amount of food wasted in the US each year would feed all 1 billion of the malnourished people in the world.
In my own cooking I have become more conscious of food waste and it led me to think about the lessons my grandparents learnt as they were brought up on rationing which continued until 1954. As always, we can learn from the past and a recent documentary Back in time for the Corner Shop (BBC iPlayer) focuses on the social history and evolution of our food culture and the role the corner shop has played in this.
Over the Easter weekend Jamie Oliver focused on using stale hot cross buns for a hot cross bun custard pudding in his show Keep Cooking and Carry on. He highlighted that custard can easily be made from custard powder that may be lurking in the back of your cupboards and that any dried fruit and any nuts can be swapped and added for extra nutrition and flavour. These kind of recipes are amazing because you make something delicious that looks like you’ve really put in time, effort and money, when you are also using up food and reducing food waste, something people might associate with less delicious results!
After making my own pasta (which I talked about in Quarantine Cuisine Part 1), I have made pizza dough using plain flour and blended a can of chopped tomatoes to use as pizza sauce with various toppings as seen below.
I don’t have a garden or allotment space but as part of my local daily exercise I am lucky to have a woodland nearby where lots of garlic grows. Wild garlic can be identified by white flowers, the garlic leaves and of course the distinctive smell. The bulbs can be removed from the ground, but I just picked the stalks and leaves to include in a vegan chickpea curry- it was fantastic! If you don’t have a garden or even a window-box you can check if there is an Incredible Edible in your area, a community urban gardening project, or a different local project.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your waste and use up things, Max La Manna has a Youtube Channel and Instagram with lots of videos and tips on how to use more of your waste, and even how to regrow carrots from the tops.
As this article concludes my mini-series with WILD it is interesting to reflect on what I have learnt and the new skills I have developed during my Quarantine Cuisine. As always, remember to be resourceful and inventive, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Following a recipe but swapping ingredients to what you have is far better than going out to buy more, both for food waste and to save money! For example, the curry above would work just as well with kidney beans, butter beans or even lentils.
We would love to hear what you’ve been cooking during quarantine! Share with us your meals and ideas through our social media platforms or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Let us know what you’ve been cooking and baking.
About the Author: Lauren Grindley is a final year Environmental Geography student from York interested in all environmental issues, with a current focus on the importance of nature reserves for mental and physical health.