Take Action On... Food

Growing, processing, packaging and transporting your food is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions before it even gets to your plate. And then when we throw it away, as it rots, it releases yet more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It has been estimated that if food waste was a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China (Ref: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations).

In addition, globally, the UN estimates that meat production makes up more than 14% of all man-made greenhouse gases. (Ref: FAO.org).

But the growing and rearing of food is also impacted by climate change, as extreme weather patterns that we are already experiencing lead to reduced crop yields and food shortages.

So it is critical that we consider what we eat and how we reduce and deal with waste.

  • Use a little less meat in each meal serving than usual or replace the meat with something like lentils or other pulses. Try to commit to a meat-free day once a week - try out some new recipes to cook from scratch rather than relying on processed foods.
  • Buy in season fruit and vegetables so that they have not had far to travel. You can check the labels in supermarkets for where a product is grown and plump for those which are British grown where possible. Here is a good guide to what is in-season in the UK at different times of year. Seasonal calendar - BBC Good Food
  • Buy organic products or meat from grass-fed animals.
  • Check out the carbon footprint of different foods. Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint? - BBC News
  • Look for brands that are have the certified B-Corp logo. These are businesses that are tackling environmental and social issues as part of their everyday strategies.
  • Check the internet for new vegetarian or vegan recipes, or those using leftovers. The charming Max La Manna puts out some good recipes on Instagram. Max La Manna (@maxlamanna) • Instagram photos and videos

...and don't forget to take your re-usable bags or containers to reduce packaging (nB. even paper bags create carbon emissions.)

  • There are some great farm-shops in the area where you can find produce grown in Bedfordshire, reducing food transport costs and supporting local business.
    • Molly’s Pantry in Ampthill market Thur and Sat
    • Nuyard Garden centre (previously Flitvale)
    • Woburn Country Foods
  • Re-Phil’s offers mostly organic food, plastic-free and delivered in an electric vehicle.
  • Maulden dairies offer milk delivered in glass bottles which are re-used.
  • Only buy what you need – Check the fridge and freezer before you shop and make a list.
  • Regularly check your fridge for items about to go out of date and plan to use them.
  • Know the difference between ‘Use by’ and ‘Best before’ dates.
  • Use up any leftovers the next day or freeze if possible.
  • Ask for a doggy bag when you eat out.
  • There are loads of tips and guidance on how to save food, save money and save the planet at Love Food Hate Waste | Food Waste prevention
  • Get the Too Good To Go app which links unsold food from cafes and restaurants to people who want to buy the food at a reduced cost. If you are a local food business signed up to this please let us know.
  • Another app is OLIO – The #1 Free Sharing App (olioex.com) This connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away, This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. OLIO can also be used for non-food household items, too.
  • There is now a community fridge at The Rufus Centre.  This new initiative helps to redistribute surplus fresh food from local food retailers. They will also take any home-grown produce (but not purchased goods) from individuals. The food stocked is available to anyone who needs support with the rising cost of food bills. Follow their Facebook page to see what’s available. Flitwick Community Fridge | Flitwick | Facebook.
  • If you have surplus packaged food or toiletries to donate, you can do so at St Andrews Church, Ampthill or at any of The Need Project collection points in the area. Food Drop Off & Collection Points – The Need Project
  • If you have a compost bin at home, you can put all your vegetable trimmings in there. This saves the fuel used for collection, and provides great compost for use in your garden.
  • Other food waste, including meat and bones should always go into your brown food waste caddy. This then gets taken away to a local facility and is used to make energy. See guidance on using your caddy or where to order one here. Food waste | Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Can you help to persuade more organisations to reduce food waste? Watch this inspirational film from Denmark’s food waste vigilante Selina Juul. Denmark’s Food Waste Vigilante - BBC News - YouTube
  • Are you a local food business signed up to Wrap’s ‘Guardians of Grub’ or independently trying to reduce your food waste. Let us know. Rise up against food waste • Guardians of Grub

By growing your own food you reduce food miles, plastic use and waste as you can just pick what you want, when you want it.

  • New to growing? Start with something easy like herbs for use as flavouring meals or to make tea. Tomatoes, beans and cut-and-come-again salad leaves are also easy.
  • Fruit is easy and productive. Fruit trees can be grown as restricted forms so suit a small garden. Strawberries can be grown in a small space or in a pot. Blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries grow as a bush and usually produce lots of fruit that you can freeze. Blackberries can be trained against a fence or wall. (You might need to cover the soft fruit to prevent the birds taking them all.)
  • Preparing your soil. You can grow most things in garden soil, just fork in some well-rotted green waste compost (soil improver) before you start. You can also grow crops in containers although these will need more watering.  Make sure you choose a container large enough for the plant or it will dry out too quickly.
  • There is lots more advice on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website. Grow your own fruit, vegetables & herbs / RHS Gardening

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