THE BLOG

Food Waste - Volunteering in Nicaragua with Raleigh International

24/07/2015 14:44 BST | Updated 21/07/2016 10:59 BST

I'm sure we've all seen it in our flat, house, friend or family's home. A pile of food sitting on the worktop rotting away. Or that piece of fruit that we forgot to throw out which has morphed into a blue-green furry alien.

Often food waste is an accidental product of our cooking labors, or as a student, buying reduced food then forgetting about it. 2015-07-21-1437491341-7242056-10685489_10206172219049907_8551092103735604627_n.jpg

My current flatmates are awful for food waste. I came home the other week to find half a pot of spaghetti bolognese and four pieces of garlic bread lying out on the worktop. And they were there the next day...and the day after that. Then a few days after that, a wok full of chicken curry arrived to begin the cycle again.

The first thing that came to my head was, 'how can they afford it?' We're all students and I don't understand how they have the money to waste three, maybe four meals worth of food a week. Then afterwards I thought about people who wouldn't have let that food go to waste, like the family I lived with in Nicaragua for ten weeks.

Living alongside my food taught me to appreciate it more. We had three cows, numerous chickens and some weird turkey-like birds roaming around the garden, and often the house. One night it rained heavily with lightening and thunder and I came home to my "dads" elderly mother, lifting our turkey-bird-things into a tree to sleep so they didn't get wet.

Across the dirt track road was a farm where lots of the teenage boys in the community worked, manually harvesting the bean and grain crops. It was unusual waking up at 6am in Northern Nicaragua to "Drop It Like It's Hot" blaring out of a radio while they hoed and ploughed.

Everything we ate was grown locally, either at our home or in the community. Our portion sizes always matched our appetites and on the occasion there were leftovers, they either went back in the pot for the next day or were fed to our dogs which guarded the property.

The meals were mainly quite plain and we always had tortillas. Every day. For ten weeks. We had a lot of tasty traditional Nicaraguan meals like nacatamal and quesadillas, as well as plainer things like red beans, avocado and cheese (always with tortillas). 2015-07-21-1437490109-8650954-1506033_10206172201809476_1184253870445087415_n.jpg

But the main thing I noticed was that nothing went to waste. This was a combination of a respect for the environment, the long process food went through to reach our plates and a lack of money. Food waste was pretty much unheard of.

Why should we care?

In the UK 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every year, most of which could've been consumed. This costs us £12.5bn a year , or £700 per UK household, and is bad for the environment too. The steps the food you eat has taken to get to your plate is often forgotten if you just pick it up from the supermarket. The land, water, fertilisers and labour utilised to grow our food alongside the cost of transportation, both financially and on the environment is rarely considered.

Here is a diagram from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign with simple tips on how to stop waste.

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