Waste not want not - throwing out food in a culture of fear

The best before on this is August 2003
Apparently we consumers throw out on average 30% of the food we buy in supermarkets to the value of €1000 a year. A pretty staggering statistic if it is multiplied by the 1.6 million households in the country. And that is just in Ireland.

I heard a discussion on the radio last evening about the subject.  The most memorable comment was that food is now viewed as something that is dangerous.  Food can poison us, make us fat, give us heart disease or diabetes.  New food safety legislation enforces this belief amongst consumers who have developed a real fear of food. 

Dates on processed food are inspected and if not compliant then the item is binned.  What has happened to common sense and instinct? How did the human race survive before refrigeration and "best before"?


The multiples sell two items for the price of one or buy two - get one free.  The one free is a cost if you end up throwing it out. 

When I was a child I grew up in a household where nothing was wasted and very little food was ever binned.  I remember my mother and grandmother casually scraping mould off jars of homemade jam and marmalade and then passing it around.  Cheese was treated similarly and items in the fridge were sniffed and then pronounced fine. 

Another comment made was that consumers don't plan.  They go grocery shopping when hungry, with small kids in tow, or race around the supermarket after work before collecting the children from the childminder.  Sorry, but having being there and done that, I don't appreciate that comment.  I was never superwoman and most people are not.  Plus it is very difficult not to be swayed by the cunning marketing of two for the price of one, especially when you are on a tight budget.

What is needed is common sense and to trust your instinct. Believe it or not the human race has evolved over time to know instinctively if something is good to eat or is potentially dangerous.  Trust your senses. Use "best before dates" and "use by" dates as a guideline.  Don't buy extra unless you can freeze it or store it. 

€1000 per household per annum is a lot of waste.

I plan on opening the can of soup pictured in August 2013 10 years after it's best before......

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