Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Tackling food waste

produce surplus at Comfrey Project Sept 17 (2)

On Sunday I collected more surplus fruit from local residents who would otherwise have put most of this bounty into the waste disposal system. It's appalling to think of all this fresh, wonderful food being dumped. I therefore put quite a bit of effort into encouraging people to swap surpluses for my preserves.

The problem I have had recently is that we have had more plums given to us that we can possibly use ourselves, even taking into account all the jam we make for own use, for swapping and for sale. On the other hand, the vast amount of apples I have received don't need to be traded on. Instead they can be stored for later use by ourselves and the goats.

Anyway, to shift the surplus plums I donated them to the Comfrey Project, the charity in Bensham, Gateshead, which helps low income families and refugees access affordable food and which I first visited in August. As part of the donation, I also gave them a box of apples, a load of rhubarb from my allotment and about 6-7 kg of runner beans (see photo) given to me by one of the allotments on the Whinnies Community Garden. They had more than they could handle.

As a society we need to avoid waste but we also need to set up systems that ensure garden produce surpluses go into the food chain rather than the waste disposal system. I discussed this with Tony Alder, who heads up Gateshead's waste collection and disposal system, on Monday. He is going to see if an analysis can be made of the amount of usable garden produce going into the garden waste bins or taken to waste tips. If the amount is significant, we then need to look at ways of collecting separately this food and getting it into the food chain without costing the council anything. That's the challenge we need local charities to take up.

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