Avoca-DOH! Which foods go rotten the quickest?
British households are wasting millions of pounds every year because they’ve bought fresh products which have gone bad by the time they get round to eating them.
According to one British food waste and recycling company, it doesn’t have to be that way if we avoid certain products, only buy them when needed, or just shop better.
Food waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk says that millennial favourite that is the avocado leads the way with its depressing habit of being too tough to eat one minute it before becomes a squishy mess the next.
“But if we change our shopping and eating habits, we can avoid this enormous waste,” says Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall.
“And frankly, I can go without smashed avo on toast.”
Top ten of wasted food
We looked at expert research, as well as asking customers about their personal experiences, and have come up with this list of shame. These are the top ten products that British consumers are wasting the most, in listicle form:
Avocados – The trickster gods of fresh foods. The day science discovers the key to preserving avocados for more than 30 seconds, the better.
Berries – You’ve said it: “It’s nice and warm, let’s have strawberries and cream!” Then you forget about the strawberries or raspberries you’ve bought, and before you know it, they’re a brightly coloured smear at the bottom of the fridge.
Milk – Tricky devils, milk. You don’t know that two litre carton has gone off until you pour it into your tea and it comes out as lumps of yoghurt. Thanks for nothing, milk.
Meat – This one could actually kill you if you don’t pay attention. With a shelf life of only a few days, wasted beef, chicken and pork goes into the bin more frequently than you dare admit.
Bananas – The avocado’s apprentice. You buy them a bit green so that they can ripen up at home, then BANG – fit for nothing but tasty cake recipes.
Fresh fruit juice – We forget the fresh juice has a much shorter shelf life than the long-life stuff. The clue’s in the name, and so is the smell of wonky cider when you open the apple juice after it’s gone over.
Grated cheese – Why are you buying grated cheese? It goes off quicker than a block of cheddar, and you’re just making the grater in your utensil drawer sad.
Apples and pears – You buy them because it’s one of your five a day, knowing full well that they’ll actually form none of your five a day, and will end up looking like the back of your granny’s hands within a fortnight.
Carrots – Go to your fridge. Go now. There’s a carrot in the veg drawer you can bend into a full circle, isn’t there? The same goes for all vegetables, but this is a top ten, otherwise this list will reach down to the centre of the Earth. Top tip: Only buy the veg you’re going to eat
Mushrooms – The only consolation is that they’re small enough not to take up mushroom (much room!) in your bin when you throw them out.
There’s a serious side to this, says BusinessWaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall, and it’s that we’re addicted to “over-shopping” – the habit of buying everything we fancy in the so-called ‘big shop’ which many people are now stretching out to last a fortnight.
“Then we’re surprised that the chicken you’ve bought for next Sunday’s roast is smelling like the bottom of a bin,” says Hall, “And instead of just changing your dinner plans, you should be thinking why that bird’s gone off.”
Changing your shopping habits
British households waste around 4.5 million tons of food every year, or approximately 7% of the food we buy. That adds up to £700 per family, annually.
“If you don’t want that £700, I’d quite happily take it off your hands,” says Mark Hall, “but I expect you’d rather keep it through better meal planning and shopping management.”
While it may not be a suitable solution for everybody, the easiest way to prevent food wastage is to plan ahead, then shop often, shop local, and buy less as a result.
But the problem remains: We’ve got so used to anonymous internet shopping where the product is reduced to an idealised picture on a screen, we’ve lost touch with simple skills like portion sizing, and buying sufficient supplies for your family.
“If you’re not pushing that trolley around the supermarket, how do you know when you’ve bought too much?” says Hall.
“Convenience is leading to massive waste, and we need to stop and take a look at our habits.”