Throwing out the food

The kitchen in the 1940's house

I have been watching the 1940's House — one of those British reality programmes that take a family back in time, this one was back to wartime London in the 1940's.  It was shown on TV in 2001, but I never got to see it, so I bought the DVD and have thoroughly enjoyed it. 

One of the things that I found very interesting about this series was the emphasis on “no wastage”  — the need to save everything, which of course was essential as Britain was running short of so many things, in particular food.  I know myself that I can be wasteful in the kitchen and throw away food from the fridge – but these days I am trying much harder to use up what I have in the fridge before running out to buy more e.g. vegetables.  During the war years it was so important for women to be clever with food — dreaming up recipes to use that ½ a cabbage instead of letting it go off and throwing it away. 
The other message was learning to cook with less — this wasn't about choice, there simply wasn't any choice during the war.  The 2 women in the 1940’s House quickly learnt how to make a 2 course meal (main and pudding) out of only a few ingredients and they did quite a good job.

Even though they thought they were eating a poor diet – it turned out (after the 2 months) that they were healthier than when they went into the House. So plain food it good for us!!

Here are some interesting statistics on wastage:
  • British households throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food each year (2005)
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Loss Project, Americans are inclined to discard more than 25% (approximately 25.9 million tons) of all the food produced domestically (2010).
  • Australians waste around 3 million tonnes of food each year (2008) – around 20% of what household buy is thrown away —  I found a figure of $5.2 billion worth of food each year is thrown away.
  • City dwellers waste more food compared to their country cousins — and in the UK, single men aged 25 to 35 are the worst (they need a wife!).
Just imagine how much the average household could save on their weekly groceries if they didn’t throw away so much.  I must re-visit my shopping list to see what I am buying that I do not need and see if I can make some savings.  I think we are spoilt for choice and as a result overbuy — one of the ladies on the programme said that when she only had a few food items to select from it was much easier.

The next one I am watching is the Edwardian House!! I wouldn't want to be the servant in this House.

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  1. I hate wasting food... and try very hard to not throw anything out.

  2. Now I see why you thought I would find it funny to see how your post relates to the one I wrote last night!! :) Haha!
    Ever since we started being more serious about finding ways to cut back, I've been far more conscious about wastage... It's true that some leftovers take a lot of imagination to use up though!!
    And yes, I agree - we are spoilt for choice. I think our range of choices and the variety today has encouraged people to be far more fussy eaters... You can't afford to be fussy when you don't have a huge variety!!
    Sounds like an interesting DVD! :)

  3. I know the stat on young men is true; probably gives them more credit than is their due. I am careful; the girls aren't too bad; the boys are plain awful. It horrifies me. If it's been in the fridge for more than 2 meals it's too old to use & they object if I do. They also cook more than they can eat & throw out the leftovers. And it's not just my sons so I suspect it is a man thing *sigh*

  4. Interesting: my dh and I come from two very different backgrounds both culturally and socio economically - we have some interesting discussions in our house when he asks "is this...(food) still fresh"? :) "fresh" to him means less than a day or two old!

  5. joyfulmum - I have taught my 2 sons the skills of the kitchen (I have no daughters) and my 17 year old goes through the fridge wanting to throw things away. I have to stop him and say that the food is still fine and the "Best Before" is advice to consider and doesn't mean it must go in the bin.

    Whereas my husband will leave food in there for a couple of weeks and tell me it is fine to eat even though I can see things growing. It goes into the bin!!

  6. oh really:) so it's the opposite with your dh then:)

  7. I was struck the same way after watching this DVD for the first time.

    Be on alert while watching Edwardian House. I've never seen it myself, but if I'm remembering correctly (which perhaps I'm not), I'm thinking a friend told me there are some risque scenes in it.

    After watching, if it turns out I am remembering it wrong, please let me know. (o:

  8. I love those programs like 1940s House, and so on. They are so eye-opening.

    We are very conscious about using things up and not wasting. We both hate to throw any food away, and we only do so when absolutely necessary. This is the house of leftovers! We often eat for lunch what was leftover from dinner the night before. It is distressing to know how much people throw away, especially where food is concerned, because there are so many going without. There are some in my husband's family who don't consider at all how much they are cooking, and then whatever is left after the meal is tossed in the bin. We both cringe! Not only is it a necessity for us to spend wisely and make things stretch, but it seems morally imperative because of the many who have little or nothing.

  9. Jo, this is such a great post. I was thinking of this very point today. I love Colonial Days myself and was reading how hard these women worked in the preparation of food. So different in those times.

    I can't wait to hear more.


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