Roast potatoes, turkey, ham - if I'm in Oz, there will be prawns and smoked salmon, plus an exciting array of salads. In the UK I've been introduced to brussels sprouts, red cabbage with sultanas, horseradish. And again I say #awwyeahchristmasdinner.
I'm sure you have similar feelings about Christmas dinner. It is ace.
Tons - literal tons - of your Christmas dinner gets wasted. Thrown away, tipped down the drain, left to spoil. In the UK, around £660 million's worth. That was one-fifth of all food bought for Christmas (that's not to mention all the regular food that goes to waste - which is around 30% of all food bought, according to the United Nations Environment Program).
Why is this so bad? Doesn't food just decompose and become soil?
Well, no, not really. In this culture of over-consumption, we're producing more food than is necessary - using water to grow it, chemicals to treat it and producing methane and other by-products, packaging it, transporting it, storing it and then throwing it out - all unnecessarily. It all takes energy and causes a massive carbon footprint. If trees were grown on the land used to grow unnecessary food, it would offset 100% of fossil fuel created carbon dioxide.
As a side-note a fascinating problem (at least in the UK - unlike in parts of Asia) is that currently, pigs are not allowed to be fed on food waste - a solution that would alleviate some of the issues associated with food waste and production. This campaign is aiming to give catering waste to pigs - check out their idea here.
But back to Christmas dinner. Here are some things you and your family can do to reduce food waste this Christmas:
- Use this portion calculator to plan the correct amount of food to buy and prepare for everyone.
- Clear some space in your freezer.
- Make sure you have plenty of snaplock bags, airtight containers, cling film and tin foil.
- Plan some recipes that you might make from your Christmas leftovers go a bit further (here's a good resource with some creative recipe ideas).
- Pour off your turkey fat into a jar - this will be great for cooking veggies in later (an Olympic swimming pool's worth gets poured down the sink in Britain each Christmas Day - causing millions of pounds of damage to sewers).
- Be aware of when things will go off - make a planner and eat the quickest spoiling food first.
- Make use of composting facilities for scraps.
For more resources and good advice generally about food waste, check out these excellent websites:
Merry Unwasteful Christmas to you all!