My List of Shame: are organic veg boxes harming the environment?

Excuse the handwriting

Ok, ok, the headline is a bit extreme. It’s not like those weekly waxed-boxes are flying private helicopters to climate change conferences or anything. I’m just wondering how many shrivelled turnips and soggy Swiss chard are filling up food waste boxes because of people’s good-intentioned ordering. I know in our house we have been shockingly wasteful with food at times, particularly when we get a box of veg we’re not too keen on. Would the environment actually be better off if we bought our veg from the end of the road, as and when we needed it?  Our purses would certainly be fuller, but the produce would most likely have been flown in and certainly not organic.

Such a middle-class worry, I know. I often concern myself with big issues like this. Don’t get me started on washing-up the recycling: I’ve long thought it to be a ridiculous idea and a massive waste of water, but then last week Haringey Council gave us stickers for our bins asking us to clean the recycling. Now I’m worried that my recycling efforts thus far have all been for nothing. (Though I’m equally worried that Haringey Council don’t have a clue and are advising thousands of people to waste water for no good reason.)

Anyway, back to the food waste, obviously the best scenario is to keep the locally grown organic veg box and actually organise yourself so you don’t end up chucking half of it away. It really shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

So, a couple of weeks ago I stuck a piece of paper on the fridge and labelled it ‘The List of Shame’. On this list we have all been writing down any food we throw away – hopefully with the intention of shaming us into food efficiency (I say all of us, my boyfriend has been using it as an opportunity to make hilarious jokes by writing things like ‘felt tip pens wasted writing this note’.)

Week one on the list of shame there was:

  • A bag of greens
  • One pear
  • Two pints of milk
  • Bowl of tuna mayonnaise
  • ½ pot of ricotta
  • ¼ tub Philadelphia
  • 1 baguette
  • 3 slices brown bread
  • 2 buns

Bad isn’t it? I estimate it to be about £9 quids’ worth of food.

But… week two – the list was clear! Sure, some of that is because not enough time has passed for things to go off yet, but a lot of it was because being aware made me cook using what we already had in stock. I even made some breadcrumbs from stale bread for the freezer.

So far week three has seen half a tub of cottage cheese being chucked, sadly. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’s still recommend a list of shame as a good place to start.



Filed under Family, Recipes

19 responses to “My List of Shame: are organic veg boxes harming the environment?

  1. Just Some Stuff About Us

    Oooh. I’m going to steal this idea as its fab. I’ve just thrown out half a pack of organic mushrooms and a horribly wilted little gem lettuce. I did eat the vine tomatoes that were on the turn though.

  2. What a great idea – the list of shame. Bread pudding, breadcrumbs (on most things and to make veggie sausages), crutons and dog treats (I know it’s bad for them) have become normal in my house. I also use the freezer for all sorts of things,eg, excess milk, yoghurt, bananas, to put off the day of throwing away – and usually can dream up good use for things. Crumble after all with banana and another fruit is yummy. Mystified why you don’t like chard – it’s even better than spinach (have you eaten it with soy sauce yet?) or layered the cottage cheese and bread over it to make a cheesey chard bread pudding? Love food hate waste has a good website. nicola

  3. Throwing stuff away (especially good organic veg) is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. I’ve been known to eat everything, no matter how mouldy, just to save it from the bin.
    Sadly I live in an area where there’s no access to veg boxes, otherwise I’d be all over that. And if I couldn’t finish it, the neighbours or the dog, or the neighbour’s dog would get the leftovers…

    • My dad is the same. In fact, he used to take things out of the bin that I’d thrown away when I lived with him. He has tins in his cupboards that date back to the 70s! It’s the right attitude, but he does take it a bit too far.

  4. Im also going to steal this idea. We’re terribly guilty about the amount of food we throw away – I think my problem (being the food shopper) is I am still buying for six even though the four kids are no longer at home…


  5. Brilliant idea. Freezing is definitely a good idea – there’s loads you can put away. Also, it’s going to sound very saintly but I’ve stopped worrying to an extent about what the kids will and wont eat and cook it anyway – they have to try – that’s my rule. Chard – cook it and give them a little, then at least you can get to eat it too. Also, there’s lots you can do with it rather than just eating it. Sarah Raven & Saint Hugh have brilliant veg cookery books. Sarah Raven has a delicious chard and coconut soup recipe:

  6. You can cook lettuce that’s too wilted to eat on it’s own – it’s good in stir fry – a bit like pak choi – or in pasta, like spinach. Or you can make lettuce soup – that was a bit of a desperate glut-using-up measure though.

    Was the ricotta and philly actually off, or just past its date? If it’s just past it’s date it definitely won’t kill you! 🙂

    • Oh they had green things growing on them! My dad always used to insist on slicing off bits of mould from cheddar that had been in the fridge for months, but I think I draw the line at visible growths on food!

    • Oh they had green things growing on them! My dad always used to insist on slicing off bits of mould from cheddar that had been in the fridge for months, but I think I draw the line at visible growths on food! And I actually really like lettuce soup, haven’t had it in years – thanks for reminding me.

  7. Thank goodness somebody else admitted guilt. I’m worse … I don’t get a veg box ’cause I know it would waste and I still manage to throw stuff away.

    What really annoys me though is that John and the kids waste meat which I don’t eat. I don’t believe in forcing vegetarianism on them but the waste really upsets me. I’m definitely going to try the list!

    I’m with you on the visible mould there!

  8. Anonymous

    All our mystery vegetables get blended into soups during the week… ( I don’t eat it much, but our boys like it 😉

  9. The list is a great idea! I think I will pop a whiteboard up to save on paper. I’m always skint and its horrible having to throw stuff away but by keeping a log it might get easy. You could also log things that are on their way out or close to their use by date (not that I take much notice of use by dates) so that it reminds you to use it even if you are not using it that day, simple yet brilliant!

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