Food matters. It keeps us alive, healthy and happy; brings us together with family and friends and keeps our city buzzing. We spend our money buying it and our time preparing and eating it.
But food is also fleeting, functional and throw-away: a sandwich we grab and eat on the bus, or a salad we chuck in the bin because we forgot it was there or were too busy at work to get home and eat it.
So here are some simple ideas to change all that – to help us eat more things that are good for the environment and our bodies, to stop us wasting money by throwing good food away, and to inspire us to turn what we can’t eat into electricity or compost, just by recycling it.
We can do it. One step at a time, we can make small changes to make a big difference: to our own health, to the wellbeing of our loved ones, to our city and our planet. Let’s go.
Food that’s good for your body is often good for the environment too.
Beans, pulses, fruit and vegetables aren’t just packed full of the nutrients we need, they’re good for the planet too. These lean, green foods result in fewer emissions and generally require less water than animal products as well as keep your heart ticking over.
And eating less meat doesn’t mean missing out on protein: up your intake of beans and pulses and you’ll be getting loads of low-fat protein inside you, as well as fibre, vitamins and minerals. They count towards your five a day too!
Reducing our meat intake also helps our pockets – for instance by making a lamb curry last across two nights by bulking it up with a can of protein-rich chickpeas.
Eating healthier foods gives us a double-whammy – like going to the gym and taking out the recycling at the same time. Whether it’s bulking up our food with veg and pulses, or doing meat-free Mondays - everybody wins.
It’s easy for food in your fridge to become a burden. The use-by-date looms and before you know it you’ve failed (again) to make it last.
But a few simple changes can help. Why not swap some of your fresh fruit and veg for frozen or canned? They’re rich in nutrients and last much, much longer. Or freeze those last white slices and use them later for toast or garlicky croutons. It’s not stale bread, it’s cooking bread.
Throwing away spoiled food is a waste of all the hard work and money that’s gone into farming and transporting it – so let’s make food work for us instead of the other way round.
Food you chuck out with your general waste doesn’t harmlessly go back into the ground. It’s either burnt, which has an impact on the environment, or else it goes to landfill where it rots and creates harmful gases such as methane. But if you put it in your food caddy instead, as most people are now doing, it’s composted or turned into electricity.
Recycling food is as important as any other type of recycling, so whether it’s tea bags, potato peelings or banana skins, every last bit of unavoidable food waste belongs in your caddy.
So let’s make it the norm, the default – a non-negotiable part of being a Londoner: something you’d do as naturally as stand on the right and walk up the left of an Underground escalator.
Take a look here to find out if there is a food waste collection in your area.