More courgettes for dinner to-marrow

Food waste - including produce just left on farmers' fields - is a huge problem.
Picture: thinksto

Food waste - including produce just left on farmers' fields - is a huge problem. Picture: thinkstockphotos - Credit: Archant

In fields not far from my home, the onion harvest is under way. And, from previous experience, I know what that means - lots of perfectly good produce often left to rot in the fields once the harvest is complete.

I’ve seen this in other years with everything from carrots to parsnips as well as onions.

It’s not a purely local problem either. According to the charity Foodcycle thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables are rejected every year because they do not meet supermarkets’ strict cosmetic criteria.

It advocates something called gleaning as a way of saving this food and putting it to good use. In ancient times, gleaners went around fields after harvest to gather produce that had been left behind. Now, in the 21st century, volunteers arrange to go and collect leftover crops from farmers’ fields after commercial harvests: things such as fruits and vegetables that have been discarded because they are a bit wonky or misshapen (yet are fine to eat) are collected and sent to charities and food projects.

I have been known to do some small scale gleaning myself and often wonder why more farmers don’t open up their fields and invite people to collect food that’s not going to be harvested, rather than see it go to waste.

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Talking about waste food, I learned this week about a fantastic initiative being run by community group Greener Fram to cut down the huge amounts of produce that get thrown away.

It has a ‘food shed’ in the car park of Framlingham library where people can leave excess food, perhaps from an allotment or garden tree, for others to take. The shed also has some donations from Tesco, which are picked up from the store by a local volunteer.

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It’s a brilliant community initiative - every town and village should have such a shed.

In our house this week, meanwhile, we’ve been eating lots of courgette and marrow, donated to us by a friend with more veg than he knows what to do with. So far, I’ve made soup, stuffed marrow and even a cake. We have more marrow left to eat. But we’ll manage it.

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