By Mark Breen
What do you do when your fennels gone a bit floppy, your bananas are a bit too bendy, your onions overripe or the leek you bought last week is now a bit limp?
I’m asking what you do when your veg has gone to the wrong side of ripe? Do you chuck it away, or do you salvage it and turn it into something tasty?
According to Love Food Hate Waste about 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year in the UK. Almost 50% of this comes from our homes. And according to FoodCycle an estimated 400,000 tonnes of surplus food can be reclaimed each year from the food retail industry to be made into healthy and nutritious meals.
It is FoodCycle that I wanted to highlight to you. I have recently spent some time volunteering as a chef at Somers Town community kitchen near Kings Cross in London.
There are 4 million people affected by food poverty in the UK. BAPEN estimates that malnutrition costs the NHS £13 billion each and every year. To me it is clear that the Government’s austerity measures are disproportionately affecting the poorest in society.
FoodCycle provides the opportunity for people to volunteer to cook up a storm for people who value both a good meal and the chance to get together with their neighbours. Whilst of course also rescuing food before it reaches a supermarket bin.
While I have been volunteering at FoodCycle we have had the pleasure of picking up veg and bread which is getting close to its sell by date from Sainsbury’s and Planet Organic.
I enjoy working with FoodCycle because as an avid cook I am keen to learn and it gives me the chance to test my creativity. As chefs we challenge ourselves to make something that tastes great, with some often daunting looking ingredients.
In the first week we were given potatoes, onions, cream, bananas and cabbage. We made a delicious potato gratin, french onion soup that wouldn’t have been out of place in any restaurant as well as a potato and lentil curry.
The best part of the day was when we sat down and enjoyed the food we had made with the people from the local area who came to eat with us.