Up Front 09/08

One of my pet hates is food waste. Although I’m sure it plays a major role in adding to my middle-age spread, my need to hoover up children’s leftover bread crusts, bacon rinds, vegetables and other discarded titbits is as much thanks to an urge to ensure that nothing is thrown away, as it is to gluttony. Which is why I’m naturally drawn to articles such as one in the Guardian recently which highlighted a local pub in Norfolk, where customers are greeted with a sign that reads: ‘If you breed, grow, shoot or steal anything you feel may be at home on our menu, ask at the bar. Let’s do a deal.’ The pub landlord has a system of swapping pints for food. Although I’m not condoning the idea of stealing to supply the local pub, the concept of moving surplus food from allotments, private gardens or smallholdings to local outlets is surely something that should benefit all local communities, especially at a time when most of us are dealing with tighter budgets. Between organised food swaps, surplus produce market stalls and ‘farm gate sales’ a lot of hidden food waste could be eliminated. One of the problems with end of summer vegetable and fruit gluts is that many simply don’t have the time to collect and deliver their surplus to someone who can use it. These are the sorts of projects that local volunteer organisations are so good at, so it’s worth a call to local food groups to find out who might help. In the meantime, whilst writing this, I have demolished the best part of a packet of chocolate fingers … all thanks to another pet hate of mine … giving unhealthy food to my children.