Around 15 months ago I helped to set up a food waste project in my adopted city, Worcester, UK. Called Worcester Food Rescue, the project comprises a group of extraordinary individuals who each week dedicate some of their own time and energy to collect supermarket food that would otherwise be destined for landfill. The food they collect is then distributed to several local charities.
It has been eye-opening to see at first hand how much perfectly edible food is thrown away by supermarkets simply because it has exceeded its “display by” date, and it is gratifying to see that same food now being used to feed people who depend upon those charities.
Of course, whilst the work it does in invaluable, the very fact that a project like Worcester Food Rescue exists is an indictment of an economic model which encourages overproduction and over consumption. When we don’t buy or eat everything we are encouraged to purchase, food waste ensues.
To lay the blame with us consumers is not entirely fair. Yes, we really should learn more about where our food comes from and how it has been produced and, yes, we should learn to appreciate ‘imperfect’ but edible food and, yes, we should trust our own senses rather than “use by” dates when it comes to decisions about throwing food out.
But of course the entire food economy is built around waste, and we consumers are just one cog in that machine. Farmers are encouraged to throw away food before it even reaches the supermarkets if it doesn’t conform to predetermined requirements of shape, size and colour. Supermarkets deliberately overstock and then encourage us to buy more than we need, which we dutifully do, only to throw away the food we bought but didn’t need.
In a system cynically geared around food waste, learning to love and appreciate food becomes almost an act of defiance.
There are many wonderful benefits from growing your own food, mental as well as physical, but for me the two greatest of all are that it teaches you to appreciate the seasons, and it teaches you the value of food. When you have slaved for weeks or months to produce your own food, you eat it when it is ready to harvest, and you do not waste it.
This is a simple seasonal recipe, with just a handful of ingredients, some of them home grown, and boy does it taste good.
broad bean, dill and mozzarella fritters
200 g organic broad beans (weighed after removal from pods, you’ll need around 700 g podded weight)
1 buffalo mozzarella, grated
1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
30 g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp lemon zest, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
1 organic free range eggs
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for shallow frying
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the broad beans and cook for just two minutes. Drain and then immediately plunge the beans into a bowl of ice cold water. Once they have cooled, slip the bright emerald broad beans out of their skins. Use a fork to very roughly crush them, keeping plenty of texture.
2. Place the crushed broad beans, mozzarella, spring onions, dill, lemon zest, sea salt, breadcrumbs and egg in a mixing bowl, and stir until thoroughly combined. Divide into four equal sized balls and flatten each into a fritter shape, about a centimetre and a half in depth. Place these fritters onto a flat baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Pour a couple the olive oil into a large frying pan and place over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully place the fritters in the oil. Fry the fritters for 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp on the outside, turning them over carefully part way through. Drain briefly on kitchen paper before serving, along with a crisp seasonal salad.
Tags: food waste, supermarkets
This looks like a f\great recipe. I like to get more ideas for dill. Super good! 💖
After a hard hitting locally made documentary series “War on Waste” was made by the ABC (Australia’s equivalent of the BBC) a huge grassroots groundswell began to encourage consumers to accept undersized oversized and blemished produce. 40% of all bananas grown locally used to be dumped because they didn’t comply with supermarket size and shape standards. The major supermarkets were outed on their waste to such an extent that most are now donating out of date stock to one of the two major food recycling charities in Australia, Second Bite and Oz Harvest. One interesting aspect resulted in the significant changes that several household in one Sydney suburban street were able to make to their domestic waste simply by being made aware. The flow on affect has been incredible within my own community. Veggie fritters in many guises are a favourite here. They’re delicious hot or cold
Hi Sandra, and thank you for your great comments. It’s really good to hear how things are changing for the better in Australia. Over here in the UK, several supermarkets are now stocking “less than perfect” or “wonky” veg, and they seem to be popular with shoppers. Supermarkets are also increasingly sensitive about food waste – most where very receptive when I first visited them to talk about the Worcester Food Rescue project.
The tide is certainly turning, but there is still a long, long way to go. Steve x
nice snack !!
Made these fritters for a friend of mine, she loved them!
Thank you Krešo, it’s always good to know when a recipe has worked so well! Steve
Hallelujah and pass the tambourine! This is a piece written absolutely from the very core of my belief system. It is so important to educate about waste, educate people not to be scared of food that is perfectly good and that they can eat without fear of curling up and choking to death on the first mouthful because it is deemed out of date or it is the wrong shape or whatever. And it is equally important for governments (not just single communities but entire nations) to ensure that food that is no longer sale able is distributed to those in need. But it is the food industry itself who must be attacked. We can all make a difference, a tiny difference but nonetheless a difference by ensuring that we don’t buy too much, that we buy good fresh ingredients that have travelled as little as possible, that we grow as much of what we eat as we can and that we throw as little as possible away. But the food industry has to be made accountable the world over because until it is it will keep skewing things to ensure that more is thrown away than is used by those that by it. After all, that is what makes their coffers swell. Your recipe looks gorgeous and I am so glad that you are involved in a project in Worcester because it is those green shoots that we can nurture to bring a fairer harvest to this world we are beating into submission and destroying
Thank you, Osyth, for your wonderful comments. I agree with everything you have said. My involvement with Worcester Food Rescue has been to set it up: there are many others now, wonderful people, who are making it work on a daily basis. Steve x
Setting such things up is a huge amount of the battle … getting everything in place for others to run the machine is not to be underestimated but neither are those that then crank the handles and ensure that the thing has legs for eternity. My comments are born of a heartfelt desire to change the way we do things and I believe that with initiatives such as yours it is achievable. I love your ethos (I would, I suppose) and it is one that without preaching I do try to evoke in others wherever I happen to be. X
It looks amazing! Great tip. Bye. Kamila