Shane Jordan: Why food waste matters

In our latest blog post, Bristol food waste chef and educator Shane Jordan shares his thoughts about helping Bristol residents reduce their food waste, encouraging awareness around buying, storing and recycling food.

We are often shown extreme realities of food waste depicted in the media. Although I can see that this can prompt action, my philosophy is to instead focus on the positive with a self-help approach. My aim as a chef and food waste educator is to reduce food waste by making cooking fun, providing free information about food waste reduction and working with people to set small manageable goals. For this reason, I am supporting the bid for Bristol to become a Gold Sustainable Food City as food waste is so central to the bid. I was excited to hear about the new Bristol Bites Back Better element to the campaign.  

I have worked with Bristol Waste Company on their Slim My Waste Feed My Face campaign to encourage Bristol residents to recycle inedible food waste and have collaborated on this issue with MP for Bristol East Kerry McCarthy and other local councilors within Bristol. My work previously at events and festivals is focused on having a positive approach towards food and being more mindful of the effects of wasting food.

When I first heard that Bristol will be bidding to be recognised as a Gold Sustainable Food City, I was keen to get involved in promoting the original actions that were asked of the city’s individuals, businesses and communities. I am fully confident that working together as city we can be a positive example to all other cities in the U.K. and beyond as a thriving sustainable green city.

COVID-19 has of course changed everything, but it has shown how important food supply is and how crucial it is that food is not wasted for not only the environment, but also our communities. During the first lockdown, UK citizens adopted a wide range of positive food management behaviours such as saving food leftovers and checking their cupboards, fridges and freezers before heading to the shops. Hopefully, this trend will continue as people find ways to make full use of the ingredients and resources they have at home. It would be great to now see this change in behaviour lead to a reduction in food waste in our black bins – we all need to be using our food waste caddies for any food we haven’t used. With the changing situation for restaurants, there is continued risk that there will be rising levels of surplus food as lockdown restrictions make it harder for the restaurant industry to plan. Whatever citizens can do at home to reserve precious resources can and will help.

The work I have personally doing to help Bristol become a Gold Sustainable Food City has been to encourage environmental awareness and promote waste-reducing recipes and self-help tips. Although a lot of my work was previously schools based, I have had to move recently into focusing on the online space. My book Food Waste Philosophy, published by Bristol-based publisher SilverWood Books documents my beliefs about food waste, education, and achieving environmental goals.

I am involved in this work because I have a deep passion for creating recipes and preserving food that minimises the likelihood of waste. I believe food should primarily be eaten. Failing that it should be recycled, allowing that food to become fertiliser to grow more food and become energy to power homes. My approach revolves around working in harmony with nature rather than against it.

One important way that I think we can help Bristol become a more sustainable food city, is to support Bristol’s local economy and try to buy fresh locally produced food. Doing this has positive effects on nature, your health and for Bristol as a whole. This is a big part of the new Bristol Bites Back Better campaign, which invites citizens to support local wherever possible.

By supporting Bristol’s local economy and buying items made and sold locally, the money spent stays in the community, creating more jobs and investing in the future of the city. I believe that seasonal, locally produced food tastes fresher and better too.

Take action on food waste as an individual now. Every single action counts when added up together with the action of the city as a whole. Some of the ways that this can be done include creating a shopping list or using a phone app to list the items you intend to buy, reducing the urge to buy other food on impulse.

We can do this Bristol!

Shane Jordan is a Bristol-based food waste chef and educator, and author of the book, Food Waste Philosophy.

Visit the Bristol Bites Back Better website to find out how you and your organisation can play a role in building a stronger food system for Bristol. Share your insights and stories using the hashtag #BiteBackBetter. Find out more about the campaign here.

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