Challenge 2 – Food for Thought

Challenge 2 – Food for Thought

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Welcome back challengers! How’s it been, going green?

It was the new year a moment ago, wasn’t it? Yet suddenly it’s just “this year.” It’s now. It’s February. The month with the pesky additional “r”. The month we celebrate pancakes in. The month we let loose the winged baby, armed with his bow and arrow and vials of unconditional love. The month of being ritually washed (no, we didn’t know about this one either).

And it’s another month, another opportunity, to heal the world around us.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, Pancake Day, too. There’s the beginning of Lent and then, not long after is the day for Random Acts of Kindness. There will be a lot of chocolates and crepes and dinner dates gorged upon this month – and then given up, days later.

With that in mind, this month’s challenge is all about food; how to acquire it, reduce it, recycle it and make the most of it. To give up old habits and stack some new ones. To make changes that are their own acts of kindness, extending to the wider Earth but beginning in your home, baked with bite size steps and chunks of easy-to-swallow habits that will help to nourish the very planet that nourishes us.

So, are you ready to go green by eating green? On your marks, get set, grow!

  1. Buy your fruit loose

Footloose is one thing, but fruit (that’s) loose is a good thing. Move over Kevin Bacon, you’re in the wrong food aisle here. This one is for the fruit.

I’m sorry but, do a bunch of bananas really need to be bound in nearly impenetrable plastic, sealed by a tag that’s the first cousin of a zip-tie, enclosed in a dark magic placed upon it by witches who were once scorned by banana-stealing truants, for it only to be unlocked with an ounce of blood spared by the fifth generation descendent of one of the guys who played a pyjama-d banana in the aptly titled show, Bananas in Pyjamas? Seriously? They’re impossible to open, for one. But also – and I apologise in advance for shouting –


Yellow, for visibility. Cushioned, for fragility. And shaped like that, for humility.

So why are we suddenly using 70,000 tonnes of hard to recycle plastic per year in the UK to wrap them and all other sorts of fruits and vegetables? These things that exist on trees, in the ground, open to all elements and even exposed to our stuffy kitchen air when we bring them home and stick them in that garish fruit bowl our aunt got us for Christmas.

The plastic is redundant, but worse than that – it’s dangerous.

“Selling [fruit and veg] loose could prevent 100,000 tonnes of food waste and 10,300 tonnes of plastic.” – Wrap, a waste and resources charity.

Buying loose fruit and veg will dramatically reduce the harmful impact of all the hard to recycle plastics that we bin each day – and prevent food waste, too! And it’s so easy to do! Just get yourself a netted fruit or veg bag. Or a paper bag. Or just stick them in your handbag. Better yet, just bowl them back to the car, straight out the automatic doors.

Whatever you choose, choose against plastic this month, where you can.

  1. Get a veg box!

 It’s like an ordinary box, except there are vegetables in it. You’ve probably already heard of them – they were a hit during lockdown. Sales of the Food Foundation veg box scheme were up by 111%, during the pandemic. Why? Because nobody wanted to venture into supermarkets, so we bought vegetable boxes sourced from nearby farms that were delivered straight to our doors. We went local, because it was safer.

And we stayed local, because it’s just better.

Did you know that the average item of fresh food that we tuck into each night travels about 1,500 miles to get to us? Romantic? Yes. Really bad for the environment? Italicised yes. That’s a large carbon footprint for a few ingredients in a footlong. Do we really want to damage our Earth more by eating a jetlagged onion that we could have sourced from the friendly Mr Farmerson up the road?

No. No we don’t. What we do want is to invest in our community more. Here’s why you should try buying some veg boxes this month:

  1. You’ll be supporting local farmers. And thus, you’re supporting your local economy. A sustainable future is built not by the world, but by the millions of communities within them.
  2. And that means low food miles! If the veg is coming from the Moongrass Fields Farm (no, this is not the name of my farm on Farmville 3…) up the road, it’s got a much shorter journey to make. Less miles travelled means a better impact on the environment, and a smaller carbon wellyprint left in its wake.
  3. It might even make you appreciate your vegetables more. Perhaps you’ll get to know the farmer who grew your veggies, and how he grows them, and even give it a go, yourself. When we see the time and effort in things, we value them more. And what we value we do not waste. Eating local veggies means we’re less likely to scrap any. Maybe even compost them, too!

3. Compost food scraps

It feels good to give back, doesn’t it? To give back to the community, to charities, to your parents. To give back your screeching nieces after an evening of babysitting now that your sister is home (about bloody time, too! Janine just randomly started eating the skirting board!). Giving back is an act of kindness.

And this challenge is about giving back to Mama Nature, herself. She’s done a lot for us – it’s time we give a little bit back.

That’s what composting food scraps is. A little bit that goes a long way.

Compositing reduces your impact on the environment. It saves on resources, it enriches your plants and soil, it lowers the emission of greenhouse gases and it prevents almost half of food waste from going to waste. Composting is a cheaper alternative to the disposal of rubbish and recycling – and it’s priceless. No, literally. You can do it in your own garden for free!

Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Get yourself a compost bin. Stick it somewhere sunny, but easily accessible. Nobody likes to trudge up to the end of the garden holding potato peelings in a blizzard.
  2. Know your scraps. There’s an array of items that are compostable; vegetable skins, fruit peelings, teabags, cereal boxes, eggshells, pet hair, shredded paper. But never compost meat, fish or food that has previously been cooked. Or nappies. Especially not Janine’s gross skirting-board-filled ones.
  3. Fill it! Lob your food scraps and garden waste into the compost bin until it’s frothing at the mouth was yummy waste. The innards should look like a healthy balance between shades of greens and browns. Mmm.
  4. Be patient. It can take anywhere between 9 months to a year for your compost to become usable. In the meantime, just keep topping it up and blowing it kisses through the window until it’s ready to make its home back in the Earth.
  5. Go get it! Once this time has passed, check if your compost is ready: if it’s soil-like, crumbling and moist like a Nero brownie, and it smells fresh and earthy – then it’s ready.
  6. Scoop those scraps. Now that your food scraps and garden waste have been composted, grab yourself a spade or trowel or even a teaspoon if you’re slightly masochistic, and start scooping out that compost.
  7. And then feed it to the ground. Spread it across your vegetable patches, share it with your lawn, sprinkle it here, there and everywhere. Soil yourself! Let your garden worms feast!

Landfill? More like landfull. It’s had its fill, it has been far too overindulged and now it’s time we save up and serve up our scraps to the compost bin.

  1. Have a little less meat and dairy

Mary, Mary, eats meat and dairy,

Look how greenhouse emissions grow!

More than each plane, lorry, car – this is just bizarre!

We’re ruining the Earth, irreparably so.

Mary, Mary… on the contrary, there is a way to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from ever-increasing. An easy one, that starts right there at home (and the supermarket).

Eat a little less meat and be more spare-y with your dairy.

Because meat and dairy contributes to nearly 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions, globally. So the less we eat, the less we emit.

But wait, before you have a beef with us, let us explain: this doesn’t mean we have to cut the bol out of the spag-bol entirely – and we can still sprinkle something grated onto the top! We’re not restricting, we’re just reducing and replacing with some plant-based foods. They have a 10 to 50 times smaller carbon footprint than animal products, and nowadays, there’s a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to most of our favourite foods, so there’s definitely one or two swaps you can choose.

It might seem like a daunting task; meat and dairy comprises many of our meals, drinks and snacks, but it doesn’t have to be. Not if you begin with these easy and actionable changes:

  1. Swap your mince for Quorn mince.
  2. Trial a vegan diet for a few days.
  3. Replace the meat in a few of your meals with nuts and pulses.
  4. Try a black tea! Or an oat milk latte! Or the tears of your enemies!
  5. Spend some time in the shops looking for vegan or veggie alternatives that catch your eye.
  6. Swap dairy for your diary (any time you get the urge to bite a corner off your Cathedral City, write about it instead).
  7. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Some habits are hardwired. If you were brought up on cottage pies and milky brews then this might be trickier for you than for others. Give yourself a break if you cave in to your mama’s lasagna or a free sample of Gouda. You’re a hungry human – we get it. But remember: you’re also a capable human. So try again when you can.









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