Every Bite Counts

As the food in our shops and restaurants gets more and more difficult to afford, we are all looking for ways to reduce costs. Even though it’s a tricky time, many of these changes we can make are a win for the environment.

Each year a mind bending 2.5 billion tonnes of food goes to waste – and when that happens it’s all the energy and water used to produce the food which is wasted too. There are waste issues with our entire food and farming systems that might feel we can do little about, however by far the biggest area of waste is actually at home. Reducing this waste is seen as one of the easiest fixers to help the climate crisis. So this one is up to all of us.

We are all guilty of finding half a mouldy vegetable lurking in the bottom of the fridge, or popping to the shop to get an easy dinner rather than getting creative with the aubergine which really needs using up. But with planning, a few adaptable recipes up your sleeve, and an open mind we can all eat the food we have.

In the last couple of months I’ve found a couple of really easy wins which have made a real difference to our eating and shopping. First, I labelled things in the freezer – an oddly satisfying job – but it means I can easily access a previous dinner or batch cook for my lunch at work. The freezer is a definitely a food waste friend – there is so much you can freeze when it’s cheap and in season and have any time of the year. Secondly, I started making soup out of all the droopy vegetables and the impossible to use celeriac or swede which crops up in my veg box this time of year. I have also treated myself to an airfyer, which is an expense I know, but I barely turn our oven on any more so it’s a big save on fuel and great for waste reduction – veg peel crisps anyone?

I would also recommend the recipes on the Oddbox website – they have a whole zero waste category (and now deliver locally if you fancy) https://www.oddbox.co.uk/recipes/categories/zero-waste. A lot of the recipes are about being flexible with ingredients. My husband is a real recipe follower, and finds this hard, but a leek works just like an onion and kale can be replaced by anything leafy in most recipes. Whilst we are thinking vegetable – one of the easiest ways to save money (and help the environment in terms of fuel and water use) is to eat less meat. I do know it can take more planning and cooking to dish up veggie food – but there are so many amazing recipes all over the internet now. The Real Junk Food Project in Brighton – a fab initiative – have also just published a book full of recipes https://www.realjunkfoodbrighton.co.uk/recipebook/.

My last tip are the waste apps – Too Good To Go is a great app, especially for hungry students who need a carb fix. But it’s not just sandwiches you can get must cheaper than usual – I’ve had local lagers, coffee beans and even sushi from Too Good To Go. Another one to look at is Olio for all sorts of things to swap or borrow locally including left over food. And whilst we are on free, local things, you can also sign up to your local Freecycle sites.

Finally, for more information about food poverty and all the local projects that are there to support us when we really are finding the costs of food to much visit https://www.msva.org.uk/get-help-with-food

by Nicola Brewerton

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Sustainabl(ish) Talk Hosted by Fairer World Lindfield

During The Great Big Green Week 2021, Fairer World Lindfield put on a very commendable selection of talks and events to help raise awareness for sustainability and fairer trade. One of the talks was with non other than Jen Gale, founder of Sustainable(ish) and The Knackered Mums Eco Club, author of two best-selling books on sustainable living and to top it off a mother of two.

So please find below the whole talk kindly hosted and recorded by Fairer World Lindfield. I realise not everyone has a spare hour and twenty minutes to watch its entirety. So to save time, please find below the video a description of where to skip to, depending on what you are most curious about.

However, if you do have time to watch it, it is definitely worth it. Jen Gale has many easy-to-do ideas, tips and information relating to sustainability. She is also very down-to-earth and relatable.

skip to 2m 00s for MY STORY…
An introduction of the talk called, Sustainable(ish) in Sixty Minutes and a little bit about the speaker Jen Gale including her accomplishments such as setting up an online community of over 60,000 taking part in imperfect eco action.

skip to 10m51s for THE PROBLEM
Jen explains why there is such a great need for sustainability. Mostly explaining what is happening to our planet because of greenhouse gases. She summarises this into five key points relating to current climate change issues.

skip to 16m06s for THE SOLUTION
Leading with the quote from Dr. Jane Goodall, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” Jen talks about how you can make a difference just by making better decisions more of the time. You do not need to bust a gut changing everything in your life for the good of the planet. You just need to take small sustainable steps that work with your life.

skip to 17m 0sec for THE POWER OF YOU
This is where you can learn what the point is of taking those small steps even though others may not be. Jen elaborates on how and why you have power as a consumer, a citizen, an influencer and a change agent. Thus proving how your efforts to live more sustainably can have such a huge impact on those around you. She gives an example of her workplace when she used to be a vet. It really wound Jen up that there was no recycling and at first she didn’t say anything because she didn’t think she had agency to. However when she eventually did raise the issue, she was met positively by her bosses saying they were happy to do so if she could do some initial research. Point being: you can but ask if you want to make a difference.

A term coined by Jen herself. It is the idea that we can be sustainable and live our lives. We just all need to realise that we are going to start from a different point and therefore will each make different changes.

skip to 29m45s for CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION
A plethora of relatively easy tips and good ideas for things you can do at home and in your life to cut down your carbon emissions.

skip to 40m32s for ZERO WASTE(ISH)
Jen illustrates why we need to prevent waste with some important and interesting facts. Such as the fact that the average person in the UK will throw away their bodyweight in rubbish every 7 weeks. The feature of this segment is the waste hierarchy that shows how to make putting waste in landfill bins a last resort. For example, she points out you can ask yourself how to refuse buying balloons for celebrations or how to reduce your consumption of fashion.

skip to 48m20s for PLASTIC-FREE(ISH)
Ridding yourself of single-use plastic is a tough one for many. Yet so important for the good of our oceans and our wildlife as well as the carbon emissions. Jen puts forward the ‘BIG FOUR’ items that you can swap for reusable versions. She breaks down the issues of plastic production into four main points.

skip to 51m58s for FOOD
Another hot topic, food waste is responsible for a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions. One great highlight of this slide is Jen’s suggestion to have an ‘Eat Me First’ Box in the larder or fridge (or both) to help prevent food waste.

skip to 54m22s for AT HOME
Top tips here for changes you can make at home. One of her easiest tips is for you to delete and unsubscribe from emails. When you consider that our emails are all saved on servers, those servers are usually powered by fossil fuels and regardless of how they are powered, they consume a lot of energy – it is a no brainer. You can do this simple task while you watch the television or while waiting for the kettle to boil.

skip to 1h0m52s for DO ONE THING
The conclusion and the question: what one thing can you do today?

skip to 1h02m21s for QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Take advantage of Jen’s expert advice and information coming from her experiences and research. Questions include:

What media and methods has Jen found best to capture peoples imagination and inspire them to start an eco-journey?
What do your children think of your sustainable activities?
What tips do you have on moving your pensions?
Where do you shop? How do you avoid the plastics?

If you liked this talk and would like to watch more of the talks from The Great Big Green Week with Fairer World Cuckfield, please go to their YouTube page where you can find talks on:

Green Energy for Your Home with Nick Owen, Director of HKD Energy and much more

Climate Justice and the Global South with Tearfund

Veggie and Vegan Demo – Food for Thought

Veggie and Vegan Cooking Demo – Sushi!

Peter and Chris from Fairer World Lindfield also run a monthly climate cafe that is worth following. Each talk is online and varies widely in content from sustainable living to how to compost to circular economy. We would love to put on some talks of our own in Cuckfield, so if there is something you would like to know more about, please do let us know via email: hello@greenercuckfield.org

Until we meet again, thanks for your time, Cuckfielders and Mid Sussexonians.