Friday, 12 April 2013

food waste

as i wandered through the supermarket the other day i noticed a whole lot of people milling around some boxes of produce so i scurried over to see what all the excitement was about..i must have had a quizzical look on my face because without talking to me the supermarket employee pointed to the plastic bag holder..when i came back with my bag he nodded towards the boxes and told me for $3 i could fill my bag..i'm not good at bun fights so i hung back until the dust had settled accepting that i might miss out on the better produce..but it didn't turn out like that at all because i was easily able to fill my bag with quality produce such as new seasons apples and corella pears, lebanese cucumbers, a couple of heads of garlic (not the bleached imported variety), red capsicums, beetroot and organic bananas..admittedly there was a lot of poorer quality stuff in the boxes including rotting vegetation but my well honed urban foraging skills enabled me to find the better stuff among the dross..

i had a bit of a chat with the attendee while he was telling me to tie my bag securely (in case i stole a soft banana?) and as he put a bar code sticker on my bag..he told me that the same thing happens every day from 3-4 pm and that he has his regulars who come every day..i don't know that i will become a 'regular' because i buy my green groceries elsewhere but if i happen to be there at the right time i'll probably check out what's on offer again..

i checked out my bounty when i got home and the only thing wrong with the apples was the odd blemish but otherwise they were fresh and crisp..the other things weren't perfect either but there was nothing intrinsically wrong with any of it..there have been several stories in the media recently about the huge volume of food wasted annually around the world..among the doom and gloom there are good things happening though such as programs where producers, suppliers and restaurants donate food to charity..and i've seen a few television programs lately where, often for philosophical reasons, people engage in what's known as 'dumpster diving' where supermarket waste bins are raided for food..and the issue of household food waste is becoming a more salient issue in terms of media attention and educational programs..

i'm pretty sure the supermarkets' daily $3 'greens grab' is primarily motivated by money but i can see some positive aspects..the first is the economic benefit to the consumer and the second relates to waste reduction which results in reduced landfill, methane gas production and the associated effect on climate..and i get the sense that many of us, in reducing waste, respect ourselves more when we respect the hard won and precious life affirming commodity that's food..

a few articles addressing the issues i've mentioned (food donation) (eating and cooking food from supermarket
waste bins) (household food waste) (household food waste)

roast beetroot and taleggio soup
tea with hazel

ingredients soup

2 medium to large beetroot peeled and quartered*
2 small red capsicums cut into quarters*
1/4 small pumpkin peeled and cut into chunks
4 medium tomatoes cut large
1/2 large zucchini cut into chunks (i only used this because i was low in stock and i thought this watery vegetable would amp up the fluid volume of the soup without eclipsing the flavour i was after)
4-5 cloves garlic unpeeled*
1 litre stock
olive oil
2 teaspoons (tsp) salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes

ingredients to serve

1 tsp sumac per person
3-4 slices of taleggio per person
finely cut parsley and chives
extra salt and pepper


~ place the beetroot, capsicums, pumpkin, tomatoes, zucchini and garlic in a roasting tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes
~ roast at 180 deg c until the vegetables are well browned and softening
~ once cooked remove the roasted vegetables to a saucepan, add stock, and cook until the vegetables are falling apart
~ puree the soup and pass it through a mouli

~ reheat, adding water if it's too thick, and serve with slices of taleggio, chives, parsley and sumac

note * denotes 'green grab' produce

atta milk loaf
tea with hazel


250 gms atta flour
250 gms white bread flour
approximately 250 mls full fat milk
1 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt


~ mix flours and yeast with enough milk to make a shaggy dough and leave for 10-15 minutes to autolyse
~ add salt, mix briefly, rest for 10 minutes and mix briefly again
~ cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator overnight
~ remove the bowl from the refrigerator the next morning and leave for an hour or two 
~ turn the dough out of the bowl on to a well floured bench, stretch and fold a few times, and then rest for 20-30 minutes
~ repeat the stretch and fold and rest cycle once more
~ shape the dough into a round, sprinkle with semolina, place top side down in a muslin lined colander (or dough proofing basket) and leave until well risen
~ slash the loaf and cook with steam for 20 minutes at 220 deg c (break baking function) and then at 180 deg c for a further 20-25 minutes or until well browned

i think the milk gave the loaf a tighter crumb than i've become used to
 but happily it wasn't heavy and it went well with the soup


  1. I think the $3 green grab is a wonderful idea, because I know supermarkets would normally discard that produce otherwise! Good for them! Lovely looking soup, and I'm sure I have a bag of atta flour somewhere. Thanks Jane! :)

    1. i think it's a great idea gives those on limited incomes a chance to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables..assuming of course that they are available at the appropriate time and that they have the means to get their bounty home..

  2. I just have to tell you that I love your cooking. Your family is so lucky

    1. oh..thanks tanya..that's such a nice thing to say..j

  3. Hey Jane, You've been busy!! Soup looks good and that bread looks just like a loaf (pugliese) from my local bakers :-)

  4. The crisis here (and I imagine other places in Europe) means that it's pretty common to see people (especially older people) rummaging around the ground and empty boxes at the end of food markets now ....

    1. hi wcd..thanks for your comment about my bread..i'm pretty excited to hear it looks like a loaf from italy..i'm a real novice when it comes to bread making but i get enormous satisfaction from each and every loaf that i make..

      i feel sorry to hear about older people in particular having to rummage for food..are there good social support systems in place for the socially and economically disadvantaged in italy?