I recently finished making a documentary for TV with some of the people from the “What’s Ireland Eating?” crew. This though is more of a What’s Ireland Not Eating? as with the EPA we wanted to focus in on how much money we are throwing in the bin and how much we can save by preventing food waste.
As always when making any documentary we ran into the problem of having too much that we wanted to say and not enough space to say it in. Sadly a scene we filmed around the issue of “wonky vegetables” has ended up on the cutting room floor and won’t be in Sunday evening’s programme.
Here it is though as a bit of sneak preview: Wonky veg
Grade 1 veg is what is deemed acceptable for the supermarket shelf. Grade 2 veg can be used in the food service industry once it’s been chopped up and made more visually acceptable but frequently it’s not. All too often it’s ploughed back into the field or goes to be composted, EU regulations at least mean it will no longer be landfilled.
So you can have two spuds, each alike in size, shape and nutritional value, but a small blemish that your grandmother would have whittled away in the blink of an eye means that one is effectively waste.
The curious point to all of this unnecessary waste is who decides what is visually acceptable? The retailers will say that it is us the consumers who shop with our eyes not our heads. The growers will say that it is the retailers insisting on ridiculously perfectly formed veg. And we consumers will say we can only buy what is on offer and are powerless to change anything.
The very conscientious people In Meads in Navan who do not waste any of their Grade 2 veg invited us in to take a look at the beauty parade and how high the bar is set. It was illuminating.
When you see “Waste Watchers” on RTÉ1 on Sunday 8th at 6.30pm you’ll see we deal with just about every other aspect of Food Waste from the field to our forks. Be it at home, in a restaurant, in the supermarket or in food manufacturing, and how if we address it there’s hundreds of millions of Euro just waiting to be re-injected into the economy.
Waste Watchers is on RTE1 Sunday 8th December at 6.30 or on the RTÉ Player for a month afterwards