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Stay sensible with your food choices

With rising food prices, it can be difficult to be economical and ethical with our food habits.

How can we be smart when we’re doing the weekly food shop or cooking a meal and think about the environment at the same time?

Ponder no more, because fortunately Jennifer Atkinson is here to advise us and share some of her secrets.

Portion control

Portion control is a critical factor when cooking. It’s true that our eyes are frequently bigger than our bellies and it’s tempting to chuck in that extra cup of rice or handfuls of pasta to the pan for good measure; but stick to the scales instead.

Adopt a similar stance when shopping, go armed with a list and do it after eating; and when tempted by nibbles and treats at a party, adopt the ‘take what you want but eat what you take’ mantra.

Dining out

It’s easy to get careless when dining out, especially when nearing the end of a second glass of wine. But nothing troubles me more than seeing others order a few different dishes yet not finishing any of them, and not taking any of it home either.

This is, one of many reasons, why I prefer to cook myself. I’m certainly not suggesting that venturing to restaurants should be strictly prohibited, simply urging that sense must rule over greed.

Use by dates

Speaking of sense, it is true that our uncertainty over how to store food has made us unnervingly slavish in sticking to use-by dates, rather than using our own judgment.

Hopefully the recently announced revised food labelling will help end this and make clear when food is safe to eat. Of course the rationale behind this move is based on the presumption that customers are, well, idiots but I won’t go into that debate now.

It is hard to say exactly how much food British supermarkets waste, as they are not required by law to reveal how much they throw away, but it’s estimated to be about 1.6 million tonnes per year.

But let’s not forget that food waste starts before it even arrives at the supermarket. Unless we have grown it ourselves or bought it locally, there is a high chance the food we purchase has endured an epic journey just to get in front of us.

A journey that may have involved ships, planes, wagons, and warehouses; and at each stage there’s a good chance that a proportion of the food will have been binned for a host of reasons. Let’s breathe a sigh of relief that it’s no longer illegal for shops to sell ‘ugly’ fruit; I’ll never fathom what was wrong with a curvy cucumber or a knobbly carrot in the first place.

It can’t be left unsaid the untold damage that this will be wreaking on our environment.

Such is the extent of the food waste if it were actually eaten it would be the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions if one in every four cars were taken off UK roads.

So, apart from opting for a freegan lifestyle, what can we do to reduce this mountain of waste? The reality is that all of us have a responsible role to play. We have to make simple changes, like buying food based on a meal plan, in order to waste less. Conscious, and conscientious, purchasing will make the difference personally and consumer demand will always influence the corporations.

A good starting point is the [Love Food Hate Waste campaign](http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/? target=). It provides easy practical everyday things that we can do to reduce food waste, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment.

Photo: Love Food Hate Waste

Jennifer Atkinson looks after the communications for ClimateNE and is a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Member. She loves to write, read, and cook when she gets the chance.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Nicola Alexander .

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