Waste Not

Would these spindly little fellows make it onto our shelves?  Photo © Neil Langan, Shutterstock

Hugh’s War on Waste, BBC One

It was shocking to see twenty tonnes of perfectly good parsnips – not rotten, not bruised, not damaged – thrown away because they failed to reach an ideal of perfection. If you’d grown them yourself in your allotment you’d be proudly posting pictures on Facebook.
I do love a roast parsnip. That mountain of them, destined for landfill or animal feed, had me wondering how many I could fit in a white van on a midnight raid across the border.
And since when does it matter what shape a vegetable is if it’s going in your soup?
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s latest campaign is to stop us wasting food. He started off the show grabbing horrified shoppers’ baguettes off them and chopping bits off their cucumbers in order to throw the food away – to illustrate the shocking waste that we usually think nothing about.

We also had Kelly from a café in Prestwich deciding that recycling was OK cause they can make clothes out if it. And families sniffing their old hummus and making smoothies and soups out of their wrinkly fridge detritus.
There was outrage on Twitter though when it came to the real horror story – akin to when Simon sends the wrong person home on X-Factor. A mountain of rejected food and the Hammond family’s failing business, on the verge of closing with the strain of it all had us angrily typing hashtags at Morrisons. All the supermarkets are guilty of course. Morrison’s social media responses last night were poor – they’ve surely had a few months to come up with an adequate response to this.
People love Hugh. He and David Cameron were at Eton at the same time but I bet Hugh pops the odd tin of tomatoes (or perhaps fresh, bobbly, misshapen home-grown tomatoes) into the local food bank, should they have one near River Cottage. Remember that show when he was crying over the dead battery chickens. That show had enormous impact … for a while anyway.
KFC seized the opportunity to take a similarly hideous revelation of waste – and managed to show how they were starting to deal with it, though only 1% of their shops Hugh pointed out, but a start.
Seemingly this waste is our fault. Us. Consumers. We just will not accept a bobbly potato, a two-legged carrot, an apple that’s the wrong shade of red, and an egg that is too wee.
Hell, we as a country used to love bobbly vegetables. It was a weekly spot on That’s Life. “Dear Cyril While making my soup I found this parsnip that looks exactly like a penis. Does it looks like yours? Lots of love, Mr IP Squinty of Leeds.”

Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps we need our pink ladies to be proper lady-pink and all the same same size. Perhaps we consumers hate a misshaped parsnip. I think I know what we hate more. We hate waste on a disgusting scale like that – the cosmetic standards that can see 40 per cent of a farmer’s crop left to rot. It’s particularly galling to see such waste given the number of people who are currently in food poverty.
Hugh, with his compadré Oliver, is also a proponent of the sugar tax.
Sugar tax will hurt the working poor the government tells us, meanwhile we’re going to cut tax credits which will hurt the working poor. You’re welcome. It’s good to be consistent.

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