Waste not, want not

Out and about with…En Route

October 10, 2016

Here in the UK alone, one third of the food we produce is never eaten and the average household bins £700 worth of food every year. It’s an issue which seems to be finally getting some air time, with the help of celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, focusing on unwanted knobbly vegetables, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who has declared a ‘war on waste’ with his TV programme which scrutinises the entire food chain in Britain.

At this year’s Lunch! show in London I came across three suppliers who are doing their bit to combat food waste. The aptly-named Spare Fruit is based in Kent, the so-called garden of England, where Ben Whitehead saw an opportunity for business which also benefitted his local orchards.

“Of the 15 million tonnes of food that Brits dispose of every year, three million are chucked before they even leave the farm,” says Ben. “We use the apples which aren’t good enough for the shop and turn them into crisps or juice.”

Beautifully branded, picturing watercolours of green apples on a matt white packet, the crisps are air-dried, not fried and contain no additives or preservatives. The result is a healthy, sweet but slightly tart crisp which is a great alternative to potato crisps, popcorn and even sweets or chocolate.

Another Kent company, Snact (a play on snack and act – as in ‘act now on food waste’) works surplus fruit into a chewy jerky, by blending it into a smoothie and then drying it. Again, nothing is added to this pure snack and it tastes sweet, with subtle and natural fruit flavours which belie its chewy candy-like texture.

The company, which is based at its family farm, has introduced sustainable packaging too, and each 20g bag is now fully-compostable. The range currently has three flavours: apple, blueberry and banana, apple and mango and apple and raspberry. I think it’s the kids’ market which will be the easiest target for Snact if they venture onboard.

ChicP is the brainchild of Hannah McCollum, a private chef who witnessed incredible volumes of waste at the events and catering companies she worked with and found a way to convert leftovers into the next day’s dips. Her range of hummus is made from surplus fruit and vegetables and targets health and ethics-conscious customers.

The company promises that at least 20% of its raw ingredients come from surplus over the course of a year and supports British farmers by buying items that are not deemed ‘fit’ for supermarket use – such as out-grades, mis-shapes or class 2 specimens.

The crop is blended with chickpeas, tahini, rapeseed oil, lemon and seasoning and is sugar, dairy and gluten-free, as well as certified vegan. Hannah’s range currently includes five brightly-coloured dips. Savoury varieties all incorporate raw vegetables and include carrot, ginger and turmeric, herby hummus and beetroot, sage and horseradish. The sweeter dips are banana, avocado and cacao and banana, peanut butter and cocoa.

The only down-side to these deliciously-fresh-tasting dips is that they only have a shelf life of 14 days, but they’d make a great healthy snack for travellers which comes stamped with a mark of sustainability and hopefully ChicP will soon have the capacity to offer travel-sized dips along-side its 170g pots, which have already found their way into Wholefoods and other specialist suppliers.