Britain currently wastes 8.3 million tonnes of household food, and cooking styles endorsed by celebrity chefs are unlikely to help cut this, a new study has revealed.
Dr David Evans, from The Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester, has said that the pressure to cook meals from scratch whilst using fresh ingredients will lead to increased waste.
In his study, Dr Evans visited 19 Manchester homes in order to carry out his research. By visiting these homes he was able to observe just why we throw away enough food each year to fill Wembley stadium ten times over.
Dr Evans spent eight months observing different people preparing, cooking, and shopping for food. He even went as far as asking them to talk through the contents of their fridges, freezers and cupboards.
He has been quoted saying: “All too often, consumers are blamed for not knowing how to cook or simply not caring about the food that they waste. I encountered nothing in my study to suggest that this is the case.”
Dr Evans has also said that people are not lacking in their knowledge about food and cooking, but it is important to recognise that it is sometimes difficult to find a use for leftover food, particularly when trying to please and feed a family as they often prefer to eat tried and tested recipes, rather than creations formed out of leftovers.
Dr Evans has argued that current levels of food waste should be viewed as the fall-out of households trying to meet the demands of their everyday lives. The pressure to cook and eat in ways that many celebrity chefs do means that a lot of food is already at risk of being thrown out in favour of fresh ingredients.
Many people also try to recreate the food they eat out in top restaurants, however, with rising restaurant insurance quotes, along with other rising overheads, it is understandable that many restaurants may make their ingredients go further than they have done in the past in order to save money.
Dr Evans has also commented: “A lot of so-called proper food is perishable and so needs to be eaten within a pretty narrow time frame. Our erratic working hours and leisure schedules make it hard to keep on top of the food that we have in our fridges and cupboards.”
Furthermore, he noted: “It is perfectly understandable that people might forget, or be too tired to cook the food that they have at home, and so end up going for a takeaway and throwing out the food they had already purchased.”
Dr Evans also went on to say: “I know that Delia came in for some flak when she updated her “How to Cheat at Cooking” book a few years ago. And yet this so-called cheating is exactly the sort of thing that might help to reduce household food waste. It would of course be foolish to ignore nutritional considerations, but either way, it is worth noting that people will not reap the benefits of healthy food if they end up throwing it away.”
Dr Evans believes that we should not lay the blame about food wastage at consumers’ feet, and instead our celebrity chefs, who have an influence over our eating habits, should do more to acknowledge the issues and come up with desirably creative ways to cut down on waste, even if this does mean promoting eating the same meal on consecutive nights.