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Thomasina Miers: why we need to tackle food waste

by Sarah Alcock

Did you know that 22% of struggling parents go without food to feed their children, while 75% of us regularly throw food away?

Food waste is an issue that is being tackled head on by Wahaca entrepreneur and MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers. We went to chat with the very passionate chef at City Hall last week as she rallied 300 school children (with the help of Project Sunlight and Team London) to talk about this issue and what we can all do about it!

The big questions...

How are we going to tackle food waste?

'Education is really important. We've got to stop seeing food as a commodity and value food for the energy that goes into it. I've set up an edible garden at my local primary school so kids can grow food and understand the process. Once you appreciate food, you're more likely to consider how much you need, helping to tackle waste.'

How do you avoid waste at Wahaca?

'Since we opened our very first restaurant, we sort leftovers into separate bins so it can be anabolically digested. I've also co-founded The Pig Idea: a campaign to lift the EU ban on feeding swill (catering waste) to pigs. Every other country does it, but we throw swill away and waste even more energy growing new crops to feed the pigs.'


What are your tips for not wasting food?

'Don't be a slave to sell-by dates: it sounds really obvious but use your sense of smell and taste to decide if something's fit to eat. Only buy what you need and grow some of your own food if you can, even if it's just a pot of herbs. I have a big freezer so I make meals from there if I can't get to the shops and it's great for freezing unexpected things like your leftover roast.'

You're a busy working mum. How do you have time to volunteer?

'It's funny, but volunteering really energises you. The more you do, the more you find you can do. I come home from work and feel tired, but once I've cooked something tasty to eat, I soon feel like sending a couple of emails that might make a difference. You can then switch off and enjoy that hour in front of the telly even more! Start small - that's the secret.'

People are wasting food. There's food poverty. But then there's also an obesity crisis. Is it all connected?

'As I said, I think it's all about how we value and think about food, we need to reconnect. I think the whole talk around obesity and diets is horrendous. Food should be enjoyed, it's one of the greatest pleasures in life, and if we learn to respect it we'll better understand how to enjoy it in moderation.'

Is change really possible?

'Anything's possible if you want it enough. For The Pig Idea, we fed 5000 people for free in Trafalgar Square using pork from pigs that had been raised at Stepney City Farm, on a diet of swill that would have otherwise been wasted. Everyone can make a difference. We just all need to get off our arses and do it!'

Fancy getting involved or finding out more? Follow the links:

Project Sunlight
Team London Volunteering
Spirit of 2012 Trust

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