This summer startling research from Sainsburys suggested that on average almost £37 worth of food at a typical barbecue event was wasted in the UK. Items such as buns, salads, coleslaws and potato salads are often the most disregarded and probably something we can all identify with at one time or another.
How big a problem is food waste generally?
Food waste is a huge problem in the developed world and something that is the responsibility of all of us to manage. Wrap is a UK based organisation that highlights the challenges of food waste across the world, with a vision to significantly reduce what goes to landfill. In the UK alone it believes that almost 15 million tonnes of waste food goes to landfill each year.
Why does food waste happen at barbecues?
We’ve all been the host of a barbecue at some time or another and the issue with the barbecue is that typically it is more of an event or gathering. Basic human psychology dictates that as the host we generally like to impress our guests. We believe that good hosts have to make sure that the party doesn’t run out of food because, God Forbid, we don’t want guests leaving saying things like, “We had a good time but there wasn’t much food.” This is our social reputation on the line remember.
What about in industry?
Organisations also have plenty to answer for when it comes to food waste. How often do we leave food on a plate in a restaurant or café? What about the amount of food that gets binned before it even makes it to the table in many businesses because it’s gone off. Poor stock management and not understanding fully the needs of customers are two basic reasons for food waste. Recently many businesses have started feeding back to chefs on common items that are regularly left on plates after a meal (side salads are one of the biggest culprits) in order to reduce waste.
So if food waste is such a big problem what can we start to do to reduce it?
- Plan ahead – rather than going out and buying everything in sight, try and plan what food everyone will want or need and buy accordingly. This will certainly help the amount of food that then gets binned.
- Store well and Reuse – Make sure those peripheral items such as bread roles, salads, potato salads and coleslaws are stored well and plan to use any leftovers in the days following the barbecue.
- Composting – consider composting any leftover vegetables and also bear in mind that local farmers might take such items to go in animal feeds.
- Donate – if there is food that you know you won’t use then consider taking it down to the local food bank to see if someone else can make use of it instead.
- Spread the message – if you’ve got friends and family coming over for a barbecue tell them beforehand that you are doing your bit to reduce food waste and ask what they want. Rather than be disappointed that there isn’t enough they might well be prepared for what they will get and therefore you can reduce food waste without risking harm to your social reputation.
We think food waste needs to be reduced by all of us. If you want to chat about these issues further or want to know about our barbecues then tweet us @cindersbbq.