Celebrating leftovers


According to The Guardian, food’s latest hot trend may be leftovers.  First, however, we need to expand the definition of leftovers. Leftovers are not just food that has been cooked and not eaten, but the food parts that are discarded before even being cooked. According to the article, there are multiple reasons why we have chosen to discard leftovers (and, of course, waste food in the process). The fault is partly with restaurants and, perhaps even more interesting to our members, partly with cookbooks. As one British official put it, “we are in the grip of a ‘cult of beauty and perfection’ around food.” Furthermore, “celebrity chefs as well as supermarkets should do something about it. ‘Cookbooks in the 1970s and 1980s always had chapters on using up leftovers. But this stopped in the 1990s.'”

Besides overly-glossy, perfect food cookbooks, two causes for a rejection of leftovers may be found in grocery stores. As the article says, “supermarket sell-by dates have a lot to answer for. ‘I know people who will look at the label on some ham, and if it’s a day over they’ll throw the whole packet out instead of opening it up and tasting and smelling it.'”

And there’s the problem with an insistence on pre-cooked meals, “‘You’re always being steered towards a processed-food choice,’ she says. ‘If you’re the person who is still in the office at 6.30pm, and you start thinking, ‘What shall I eat tonight?’, you’ll most likely find yourself in the supermarket an hour later picking up some over-packaged food.'”

There is good news on the waste front. “There has been significant progress on household food waste over the past 10 years, with the biggest recent study – for which researchers went through 2,000 dustbins – showing a 13% reduction.” However, as we approach the new year and the time of resolutions, maybe we should think not so much about reducing our waist lines, but our food waste. And, just maybe, the two will go hand-in-hand.

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