There’s no getting round it. Our relationship with food isn’t healthy.
We make more food than we eat: the UK in 2015 threw away £13 billion of edible food from our homes. We buy more than we can eat and yet food banks gave away over half a million emergency food parcels in just 6 months in 2016. There are currently 18 food banks in Sheffield. Supermarkets’ price wars over recent years have pushed prices down to levels that harm food producers and pushed out local retailers. And we’ve lost touch with eating food according to what is in season.
As a population of over 65 million people in the UK, we have to look to sustainable practices and systems for producing and eating food, i.e. in a way that protects or has a positive impact on our environment, economy and our society. We need to change what we buy and where we buy it from, what we eat and what we discard.
Green Cheffield has always been about small ways that we can change things at home and when eating out so we can be a bit more sustainable and food savvy. At our core is the mantra: Eat local, shop local and waste less.
Eat local and shop local. Don’t get me wrong – eating local isn’t always the best thing for our environment. There’s no point trying to grow oranges on the hills of Sheffield as it would use more resources than it would to import them. Also, feeding a population of over 65 million can’t be done on small, local farms alone. Large scale agriculture has a role to play too.
Buying locally grown or made produce and eating in cafes and restaurants that cook with it helps to support the local economy. It brings jobs, and therefore money, to the local area.
It brings communities together and makes us more sociable. Either through neighbourhood-based farmers’ markets or getting to know your local and knowledgeable greengrocers, delis, fishmongers and butchers etc. Here are just a handful of our favourites.
Eat more food that’s in season. We have some great produce in the UK. Not only can it have a smaller environmental footprint, but it can also taste better and be cheaper than imported produce. Not sure what is at it’s best right now? Check out our handy seasonal food guide. Or ask your local greengrocer, butcher or fishmonger. Right now, we’re looking forward to radishes, Jersey Royal new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli.
Waste less food. Imagine, every time you did your weekly food shop you come home, unpack the bags apart from one and chuck that last carrier bag full of food straight in your bin. Sounds crazy, right? Not really. We know that the average family wastes around £60 of food a month.
There are things we can all do to waste less food and save money. Win-win! The first step is to plan. It takes a little time to get into the habit but before you go food shopping check what you’ve got that needs eating up and make a shopping list. And stick to it. It’s so easy to be tempted by offers, but buying too much is one of the key reasons for wasting too much food. If you have got something that you know you just won’t eat stick it on Olio, a food sharing app. Check out our blog for more tips.
There are a number of places in Sheffield that use up surplus food and address the issue of food fairness. The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield runs a bi-weekly Sharehouse Market: a pay-as-you-feel supermarket stocked with food that would have been thrown away. Or you can visit their cafe, Steeple Corner, which cooks up tasty dishes in the week and runs a bistro evening on a Saturday. If you’re super quick (think Glastonbury tickets speed) you can also book onto their monthly collaboration with Sentinel Brewery. An evening of top notch dishes made from surplus food and paired with beer. What’s not to like!
For a chilled, everybody is welcome, feel there is Foodhall. Nestled in the city centre it’s part cafe, part community hub and has recently hosted both pottery and timber construction workshops as well as live music and hosting interesting speakers on a range of topics. It also operates on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
So, let’s: support local businesses by shopping and eating locally; seek out delicious seasonal produce; and, waste less food whilst saving money. Who’s with us?