Who are the biggest wasters of food on the planet? I’m sure you are possibly thinking that it’s the Americans, the Germans – perhaps it’s us Brits?
Well, after hosting my nine-year-old’s party this weekend I can safely say that children are the biggest wasters of food.
I hate to see food being thrown away – my son has always been on the lean side and so we have always encouraged him to finish his dinner, and have a dessert. However, at the end of the party I was throwing away half eaten slices of pizza, chips that were covered in ketchup and cake that had been squished into one gloopy mess.
I understand that my ‘finish what’s on your plate’ style of parenting is old fashioned, and if I had a child that was overweight I’d adopt a different approach.
However, now that we are more aware of our planet’s resources, as well as the cost of everything around us, shouldn’t we remind our children about the importance of food? Our food is grown, watered, picked, transported, processed, packaged and stored, so whenever we throw food away we are also wasting the resources that went into creating it. Now that our utility bills are going through the roof, the cost of putting food on our plates is at an all-time high.
According to a recent report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) people aged 18-34, and those with children aged 0-10 are more likely to have higher levels of food waste. The same is true of those who feel under time pressure, eat more meals out and takeaways, follow a diet and purchase a ready-made food kit or fruit and veg box. It seems that while we were in lockdown we were more careful with our food – buying what we needed, instead of purchasing food on a whim.
The government has committed to halving the UK’s per capita food waste by 2030. There are calls for there to be statutory regulations so it can meet these targets, instead of relying on people to cut food waste voluntarily.
If you are scoffing at the idea that the government could ever tell you how much food you’re allowed to put in your bin then think again. Don’t forget that we are now in an era where the government can tell us where we are allowed go and who we can see. Receiving a fine because you held a children’s party and threw away too much pizza isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
So, what’s the answer? Discourage children from filling up with sweets, crisps and snacks and then give them a portion of food at dinner time that suits their appetite. I realise that it’s old fashioned advice, but when money’s tight it pays to look to your grandma for inspiration.