For some years I have been buying packs of frozen berries from Sainsburys- great for desserts and more importantly putting into my morning porridge to make it more colourful and interesting as well as adding some vitamin C.
This week I was faced with a problem which made me really mad. The simple plastic bags are being replaced with …yes … a plastic box, a cellophane seal and a paperboard wrapper AND they take up twice the space in my freezer. So I cant stock up as no space. My initial complaint to @sainsburys resulted in a link to their packaging reduction policy #epicfail there twitter person so a spot of sarcasm resulted in an enquiry to the technical team.
It transpires that the new packaging is for quality control. What ? These berries are frozen they are not going to crush and if they did would taste just the same. Please don’t tell me customers have been asking for this?? If you have confess now please.
I have asked whether the same boxes will be used for frozen peas but no response yet.
Plastic bag versus box and sleeve
The cynic in me says wait for them to either reduce the weight of the pack or increase the price to cover the cost of the excess packaging. In the meantime it is costing the earth and increasing the amount of plastic boxes going to landfill.
All week I have been reading from online friends how they hate the mad dash of the supermarket food shop and that many have done it early and are feeling pleased and relieved. The weather has turned stormy today and so many of us are now safe at home with well stocked fridges, freezers and larders. I did my final supermarket shop in a quiet Newhaven Sainsburys on Friday morning thank goodness and my main vegies last Wednesday to supplement the root veg from Dymock farm shop safely stashed in the garage.
So when I woke up this morning and saw on TV that today is the day for the ‘big shop’ I began to think about why we put ourselves through it all? The supermarkets are closed for just one day and lets face it there will be convenience stores and garage shops open on the big day if anything has been forgotten. I have just been into Seaford to pay a bill and was amazed to see some of customers struggling into Morrisons today are the elderly using walking trollies. I have to ask myself why they choose to go there today? Through the window I could see it was heaving with queues 10 deep by 11am.
There was even a queue at the local butchers –probably because people were collecting turkeys etc. I then realised why the butcher told me to go yesterday –a Sunday to collect my small piece of steak and sausagemeat. In fact many of the town shops were open yesterday even the charity shops so I hope they did well with last minute bargain hunters.
So after the frenzy of all this food shopping – I cant remember how many pigs in blankets they said on TV Asda alone were expecting to sell; the nation will settle down to eat and drink their way through an excess of food shopping. I hope that many of those shoppers will have put something decent in the Food Bank baskets that are appearing in most of the big shops now and spare a though for those with only processed food for their Christmas dinner or none at all.
Sadly on the day after Boxing Day , much of this food will be consigned to the bin uneaten along with the turkey carcass which is no longer made into soup or curry in many households (I can see my late dad doing that now and me sighing over the apple and sultanas that went into Anglo Indian curry!) A new frenzy will be in place – sale shopping- either online or another expedition to the shops. The following week the food buying frenzy will all happen again as people restock up for New Years parties.
For me the key questions to ask are;
Did I stick to the list and avoid the BOGOFs when I knew they would not get eaten?
Did I plan the meals and only buy what we really needed?
Did I spread out the treats throughout the week so nobody got indigestion and felt ill!?
Is there got nothing left over or wasted?.
Have I kept a record of the menus and shopping?- easy on OneNote or Evernote for future years?
I wish this to be reflected across the nation and the true spirit of Christmas food sharing to prevail.
When I was teaching the students were always confused about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates. As we know best before means things are still edible and safe just not at their ‘best’ There are probably numerous things in my pantry like this including Marmite dated best before September 2011 but I can’t say I have noticed any difference in it and with that amount of salt it will probably last forever.
However why on earth do the supermarkets put ‘Best before’ on bags of potatoes and apples? They last for months if stored properly and no potatoes do not need to be in the fridge gah! More than once I have had to stop a child throwing them in the bin even though they all looked perfect.
I would tell them that ‘Use by’ is an instruction applying only to high protein foods and although I would not eat meat and fish past its date (well maybe bacon if it smells OK) –it will have been frozen in my house by the time it gets near- none of this freeze on day of purchase nonsense from the supermarkets which I believe they are going to alter.
Today I noticed the last of my Greek yogurt is out of date- 6 days in fact but I ate some yesterday with no ill effects -though smells fine but decided to use it up in scones.
Mix the yogurt with a little water to loosen it, make the scones half spelt half white flour , brush with yogurt mix and dip into seeds. Bake 10 minutes on 230C for a lovely soft textured treat.
Yesterday’s press on the vast amount of food wasted in the UK from supermarkets and our overbuying due to BOGOFs /poor management has left me wondering how we got to this stage.
As a child of the 1950s growing up as rationing finished and with parents who has been Depression children; food waste was not something I was used to. My mum’s family had to rely on the Salvation Army to help out in 1920s Salford. My dad was a country boy brought up on the plain cooking my grandma had learned in service with home grown vegetables and basic proteins supplemented by the rabbits granddad’s ferrets caught. Those habits were ingrained in me- clear the plate and use up left overs or suffer dad’s wrath. I can even remember being made to sit all lunch hour over the chocolate pudiding and custard served in infant school the smell of which made me heave and I never gave in and ate it!
Turn the clock on 40 years its the 1990s and I am Teaching food Technology in an outer London suburb. We begin to notice the children leaving behind all sorts of ingredients they have not used with words like ‘ my mum says she does not want it’ . By the time I retired in 2011 my catering fridge always had a stock of cheese, butter, eggs, half packs of meat (which we would freeze for another day) also sorts of vegetables and a cupboard full of flour, rice pasta, cans, herbs and spices all left behind without so much as a thought as to how much this all cost. Rarely was anything thrown away- students who had forgotten ingredients could be helped out and the budget for staff demonstrations was reduced.
Since moving to Seaford I no longer have a massive fridge so have to think even more carefully about how much I buy as storage is a problem. Gone are the big packs of veggies and wide variety I was used to. Local shopping facilities limit me to be far more creative in what I buy and cook. The council collect food waste weekly so I have decided to monitor what we do throw away apart from peelings (as the compost heaps are about to be moved and cannot be used at present) and ways I use up food nearing the end of its life.
So this is my last week’s food waste- fits into the small bin nicely- and transfers to the Council bin about 2 inches thick- all fruit and vegetable peelings plus teabags. There is one small mouldy green pepper in there from a large pack I have to keep in the pantry now no room in fridge.
So who else is going to monitor their food waste this week?