The breadful problem with food waste

Posted on November 25th 2015

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In case you don’t already know, this summer EighthPlate went on a small tour of UK festivals saving food from the bins and making sure that it got to people who needed it.

We collected around 23 tonnes of food for organisations that feed people who are – for various reasons – unable, or struggling to feed themselves. Considering the average adult in the UK eats around 35 tonnes of food a year, 23 tonnes is a significant amount.

Before we had even finished our summer’s work and written up our end of year report, we began to notice the vast majority of the food we were receiving from food traders was bread.

When we asked the lovely purveyors of festival food why they were ordering (and subsequently wasting) so much bread at each event, they all had the same reply. Bread is cheap and is the main element of most festival food. Let’s face it –the average festivalgoer is unlikely to wake up after a beglittered and boozy night of dancing under the stars and pine for a plain salad.

They all wanted some good old fashioned hangover-curing stodge. And what good is bacon sarnie or a burger without the bread? People want carbs to fuel their long weekends of alfresco fun.

We’re not, by any means, trying to point fingers or lay blame – it’s just a fact that the catering industry as a whole uses carbs to boost their fragile profit margins. Why? Because it’s one of the cheapest food groups.

Take Glastonbury for example. It’s the largest festival in the country, and from there alone we collected over two tonnes of bread. That’s more than enough bread to fill two large vans and make thousands and thousands of sandwiches. In total we collected over seven tonnes of bread from seven festivals. And that was only a small slice of what was there.

In honour of the shocking amount of bread we saved, and the fact it’s one of the most wasted food in UK households, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite leftover bread recipes. Some of these were tried and tested on-site to extend the life of the bread we collected.

  1. Good old fashioned bread and butter pudding
  2. Tasty cheesy bread pudding with caramalised onions
  3. Juicy summer pudding(also good for anyone who grows their own summer berries and ends up with rather a lot of them).
  4. Boozy baked French toast
  5. And last but not least the obvious one: breadcrumbs (as a little bonus this link contains multiple uses for breadcrumbs).