Mary Kenny: eat your crusts!
We should each do our part in reducing food waste this Christmas
What I'd really like for Christmas - and the run-up to Christmas - is to see less food waste. We've been marking the 170th anniversary of the Famine this year, and yet, 170 years later it is reported that one-third of the food purchased in Ireland is wasted or thrown away. In America, it's 50pc. If everyone in the EU stopped wasting food, the world's hungry could be fed five times over.
Sometimes you get a wave of revulsion, almost, against the abundance of food you see around you in this season of gorging. I remember standing at the check-out of a supermarket a week before Christmas with an over-laden trolley, and suddenly feeling that there was something repulsive about cramming our bellies with food and drink in a winter Bacchanal. Do we ever pause to think that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins of old? And throwing away food in a world where people go hungry is surely one definition of decadence.
The TV cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been on a mission to reduce household waste, which he launched by rooting through the dustbins of consumers in one Manchester street. There he found food (and clothes) by the tonne which was still fit for human consumption. According to Hugh, ordinary shoppers chuck out a third of all the salads they buy; 20pc of grapes as soon as they develop a slight wrinkle on the skin; 10pc of yoghurt; 10pc of cereal and 13pc of strawberries. And don't get him started on parsnips! These sweet and flavoursome root vegetables are destroyed by the tonne because certain supermarkets insist on a "cosmetic" standards for vegetables. They have to look pretty to appeal to customers. The ones that are a little too big or a little too small or a little too knobbly go into the rubbish tip.