Farming Diary by Jane Merritt, Kendal Farmers' Market:

FOOD waste is not something we know or talk enough about. Yet, every year, one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted - 1.3 billion tonnes of it.

That's billions of meals for people in need, 30 per cent of agricultural land needlessly cultivated, chemicals and artificial fertilisers poured into the environment, water extracted and/or polluted, fossil fuels burnt and, at times, livestock and labour exploited to produce food that, in developed countries, is seemingly so cheap and plentiful that it can be sent to rot in landfill and emit methane as it does so.



Food waste accounts for eight per cent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions and undermines efforts to achieve agricultural net CO2 zero. In the rich world, most waste takes place in the home: 70kg per person per year in the UK (Wrap 2020), 70 per cent of it still edible; whilst in the developing world this figure is only 9kg per person per year.

The problem is huge - and the statistics are hard to relate to our own weekly shopping and meal planning. A visit to the food bank in Kirkby Lonsdale helped. The Thursday delivery from the FareShare warehouse in Preston had just arrived and volunteers were busy dividing boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, tinned and dry goods, meat and dairy - enough to provide a £30-worth bag of food to each of the 80 members of the food club and to restock the food bank from which customers ordered and obtained free emergency supplies.

Nationally, FareShare receives only 6 per cent of surplus supermarket stock, all packaged and still edible and otherwise destined for landfill, but the quantity and provenance of the 'waste' rescued at this one village outlet were eye-opening. From the UK: flour, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, chicken legs, crisps, misshapen apples, tomatoes, yoghurt, cheese, bread and Thorntons toffee. There was Italian sunflower oil, Turkish hazelnuts, lettuce and peppers from Spain, South African avocados, sweetcorn from Morocco, bananas from the Dominican Republic, fresh asparagus from Peru and chillies from Senegal.