Bat­tling food waste, and fussy shop­pers

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - EWAN SAR­GENT

In just one re­cent week, Hast­ings char­ity Nour­ished for Nil handed out about 1.4 tonnes of free food, grown or baked and gone to waste.

Over the past two months it has col­lected 18 tonnes of food - that’s about the same weight as 18 fam­ily sedans.

What’s stag­ger­ing, is that the sur­plus food came from only a cou­ple of veg­etable pro­duce sup­pli­ers, a sin­gle Count­down su­per­mar­ket, and more than a dozen local cafes and bak­eries.

Nour­ished for Nil co-founder Christina McBeth said it is hor­ri­fy­ing how much food waste must oc­cur through­out the coun­try if this is what can be found in her patch.

‘‘I try not to think about it. I re­ally do, es­pe­cially be­cause I some­times hear other peo­ple say­ing ... ‘oh I work in a bak­ery and we throw ev­ery­thing out’, I don’t want to hear that is go­ing on on a grand scale.’’

Nour­ished for Nil was launched six months ago as a way to get waste food back into the com­mu­nity. Donors like Count­down and True Earth Or­gan­ics hand the ex­tra food to the char­ity group, which dishes it out free to any­one who wants it. That can be about 800 peo­ple a week now.

McBeth says the Count­down, cafes and bak­eries give about 70kg of bread, bak­ing, rolls, hot food a day, ris­ing to 100kg ‘‘on some crazy Fri­days’’.

Fussy shop­pers can be to blame for much of the un­wanted food.

‘‘We’ll get things like baked goods, even when they have been re­duced, where the packet is a bit crushed on one side or the muffins are a bit crumbly. Noth­ing wrong with the food, but the pack­ag­ing is not what the con­sumer wants.’’

She says True Earth

Or­gan­ics and other pro­duce grow­ers have veg­eta­bles or fruit that are too big or too small that shop­pers don’t want.

In the case of True Earth, it de­cided to do­nate to Nour­ished for Nil rather than turn the veg­eta­bles back into the soil or use as an­i­mal feed.

McBeth says zero waste is prob­a­bly un­re­al­is­tic and she un­der­stands that su­per­mar­kets have to cater to un­cer­tain de­mand. Some weeks they sell lots of some­thing and the next they don’t.

‘‘So there will al­ways be waste and there will al­ways be a need for what we are do­ing to try and at least min­imise it.’’

Shop­pers could help by be­ing less fussy. But ul­ti­mately most food waste oc­curs in the home. Stud­ies sug­gest that for every five bags of food pur­chased, one is go­ing in to the bin. Much of that is scraps, but bread is num­ber one food wasted, fol­lowed by pota­toes.

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