The UK Environment Secretary is a cabinet member and holds duties similar to the US Secretary of Agriculture and the head of the EPA. So when Environment Secretary Owen Paterson talks about the need to use our leftovers, my ears perk up.
In a speech launching a sustainable food initiative with the Women’s Institute, Paterson spoke on food waste in general and using leftovers:
There is this cult of perfection. It is ridiculous to throw ugly fruit and vegetables away. The supermarkets can do something about that. I think these high profile chefs can also do something about it…Cookbooks in the 1970s and 1980s always have had chapters on using up scraps and leftovers. But this stopped in the 1990s. That is a little tiny area where you can change culture. Lots of food can be rehashed together and it is perfectly good.
Paterson pointed to British celebrity chefs Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver as potential allies in raising awareness on waste and called on them to do more. “Yes I think they can help. People pay a lot of attention to them. These food pundits are now major national figures and do have an influence,” Paterson said.
Whether or not it’s fair to single out Jamie and Nigella, is debatable. But here’s what’s not: the profile for waste continues to rise in the UK. And that’s a neat holiday gift to the rest of us.