101 ways to reduce your food waste. A review of the new book by Anna Pitt.
Books and filmsFoodStop waste
„Leftover pie. 101 ways to reduce your food waste.” is a newly published book by Anna Pitt – a journalist, eco-activist and an OLIO supporter. The publication was released in September 2017 and is dedicated totally to the problem of food waste.
Why have we become so wasteful?
Do not let the title mislead you, as it might suggest that we have to do with a simple cookbook. It does contain 101 recipes, but this is definitely not the only thing the author focuses on. In fact, she has created a real compendium of knowledge on food waste and available solutions that can be applied to prevent and reduce it. She starts with some numbers and statistics regarding the phenomenon, with special emphasis on her homeland – the United Kingdom. She presents a historical perspective of the problem: our grandparents and great-grandparents, who lived through times more difficult than ours, treated food with a great respect. They did their best to use every part of a plant or an animal processed in their kitchens. Nowadays, we often take food for granted – we think of it as something you can always find in a supermarket. The idea of running out of food goes beyond our imagination. Why has the way of thinking changed so radically over the years? Anna Pitt gives an insightful analysis to this problem, discussing, among other things, changes in agriculture, the influence new technologies have on food production, as well as aesthetic standards and sometimes absurd legal regulations.
The author quotes her grandmother:
“Do you know what I think, Anna? I think a big part of the problem is down to my generation. I think my generation , having lived through the war, got so fed up of having nothing and needing to scrimp and save and eke out our rations, that when things became more plentiful we became wasteful.”
And some European regulations:
„Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1677/88 of 15 June 1988 states that cucumbers of Extra Class and Class 1 must be „well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of length of the cucumber” and that „slightly crooked cucumbers may have a maximum height of the arc of 20 mm per 10 cm of length of the cucumber. Crooked cucumbers may have a greater arc and must be packed separately.””
More respect for food…
Nevertheless, the author doesn’t limit herself to presenting weird or depressing data. After the analysis of the problem, she describes a great variety of ideas and solutions to reduce waste. She suggests how to plan your meals, gives a lot of useful advice on where to buy your food and highlights the importance of eating locally and seasonally. She shares some interesting tips on how to store your food so it remains fresh for a longer time. Readers are also encouraged to grow their own edible plants in their gardens and on the balconies, as people generally tend to respect more what they have produced on their own and what cost them some time and effort. In the book, we can find a list of herbs that we can grow in pots as well as tips on how to look after them, their medicinal properties and even information whether they can attract bees (which is another important ecological aspect).
What about unavoidable food waste?
And what if we are really unable to eat what we have bought or grown? There are solutions for this as well and we can find plenty of them in the book. Starting from a variety of social initiatives and new technologies which allow to share our surplus food with other people, through composting and ending with obtaining energy from waste. The author also dedicated a chapter of her book to the future of food, presenting alternative sources of nutrients that future generations might need to take into account in order to satisfy the needs of the ever-growing population. The last part of the book are the 101 recipes to use up leftover food or plant parts that usually end up in the bin, in spite of being perfectly edible and tasty. The recipes are grouped, there is a section dedicated to meats, vegetables, herbs, sweets… It is easy to reach directly to the category that is the most interesting for us. You will find both recipes applied by the author herself and culinary secrets of eco-activists, chefs and food bloggers.
I’ve been interested in food waste prevention for a few years now, so I was wondering if the book was going to provide me with some new information or whether it was rather a thing for newbies. Indeed, the author writes about foodsharing or apps such as OLIO or Too Good To Go of which I have already heard before. Still, I have to say that I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge. Here are a few examples!
Tips on food storage
Inspired by the book, I have decided to have an “Eat me first” shelf in my fridge, for already open packages and jars and all the things that don’t last for too long. I have also found out that clementines don’t like central heating so they should be kept in the fridge rather than the fruit bowl, despite their unquestionable decorative qualities.
Some interesting recipes.
My favourite one is the radish leaf soup with caraway, served with grated radish. It looks amazing in the picture, so it made it to the top of my list of the recipes that I would like to try. Broccoli stalks with houmous dip also attracted my attention, as well as apple membrillo for cheese, made of apple peel and cores.
Composting at home
Finally I found out how exactly a wormery works and I discovered a Japanese version called bokashi.
People and businesses
Last but not least – thanks to the book, I have learnt about plenty of fascinating social inititatives, businesses, people and blogs involved in the fight against food waste. I have read, among other things, about the annual Pumpkin Rescue Festival that takes place in London around Halloween. I have discovered Lucky Peel – an enterprise that rescues orange peel before it becomes waste and turns it into sophisticated candies and drinks. I have learnt about many restaurants and cafés that base their activity exclusively on leftovers. Of course, most of these wonderful initiatives take place in London. For those who don’t live there (like myself) the only thing left is to read about them, admire and get inspired. I’m definitely going to explore all these findings in the next few months and I recommend you do the same. Note that many of these are not only great eco-friendly inventions, but also good business ideas.
For me, the only weakness of this book is that the author doesn’t emphasize enough how important it is to limit animal products for the sake of the planet. Other than that, many of the recipes presented don’t really match my culinary preferences – quite a lot of them represent the quite heavy British cuisine, which does not belong to my favourites. However, like I said before, I have managed to find a few pearls which inspired me to experiment in the kitchen. I think that everyone reading the book will find something interesting to match their culinary preferences.
Who should read the book?
In my opinion, most of people. The book is written in a simple and accessible language, full of anecdotes and the writer’s personal experiences. Hence, it will be a pleasant reading thanks to which people so far uninterested in food waste reduction will look at food from a completely different perspective. It will be certainly an eye-opener for many readers who will be able to look critically at their own habits and find a lot of advice on ow to change them. Also the readers more familiar with the topic will definitely find the book interesting. The author describes the problem from such a broad perspective that everyone will be able to read about a solution they haven’t heard of before. Moreover, the book is beautifully designed – it contains a lot of graphics and photos which make it visually attractive. Maybe it is a gift idea for someone in your surrounding?
- The book by Anna Pitt can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leftover-Pie-ways-reduce-waste/dp/0957463715/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8&utm_source=OLIO+SIGN+UPS&utm_campaign=725827c61c-Newsletter_September_15_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a2b9a8d5d5-725827c61c-183916021. Available also for Kindle.
- Here’s more on Pumpkin Rescue Festival: http://www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/waste-less/food-waste/pumpkin-rescue-festival
- The website of the company Lucky Peel, mentioned in the article: www.luckypeel.com