Frugal Family

Why We Should All Learn To Swap Food

When I was sat out in the garden a few nights ago I had a quick thought. I should create a Facebook group for my local town, where we can all swap and trade food with each other. The only rule would be that no cash would exchange hands. We could spring-clean our cupboards and gardens, and swap the food that was just hiding away, sitting unused. Tins of soup, packs of spaghetti or even the fruit from a tree that has taken over the back yard.

I quickly set up the page and within half an hour I had over 100 members! I even had lots of comments saying what a fantastic idea the group was. Soon, we had members swapping packs of salt for chutney, garden apples for a George Foreman Grill (OK, its not food, but its used to prepare food, so it was as good as) and lots of positive comments pinging between members.

So, why did I set up this page? Too much food is wasted today. People are scared to use an item that is 2 days past its ‘best-before’ date or if a tin has gathered some dust at the back of the pantry, it is no longer appealing to the owner. We live in a society where it is acceptable to just throw food away. A disposable society. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food away every year in the UK and more than half of this wasted food was perfectly good enough to eat. Why do we throw away food? Is it not the same as throwing away our well earned money? We often finding ourselves giving in to tempting BOGOF offers in supermarkets and we never use the freebie or we often over estimate how much grub we need to cook for dinner, resulting in a few extra portions a week, worth of waste. There are people who still go hungry in this country, who find it hard to put meals on their tables and we just throw ours away! What an embarrassing society.

I wanted to change all of that, even just locally. I swapped some soup that sat unused in our pantry this morning for some yummy fruity tea bags, with my neighbour over the garden fence. She wasn’t using the teas, and for me to buy them would be a luxury that I rarely afford to buy. We made a good trade. She had some lunch and I had a nice cuppa. I have also picked a full bag of apples from a lady’s garden, prepared and frozen enough for about 4 fruit crumbles (along with some rhubarb from my dads garden) to make for another day, or even month, with the help of my deep freeze!

If every town set up a food swapping page on Facebook (or even a weather proof plastic box in a town centre would do!)  think of how much less food would be wasted, think of how much money we could all save and think of all the new different foods we might be tempted to try. We can start teaching our children the importance of food and our respect for it. They will grow up to not take food for granted and waste even more of it but to give it to those who can give something back. Our society would bond, and we could even start making new friends. We would be going back to what they country did many years ago, when we all knew how not to waste food.

Since creating my local food swap page, I have since created one for Bedfordshire county, Bedfordshire Food Swap. Why don’t you create a page for your local area, and get swapping!!!


Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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