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Thursday, 10 January 2013

How much is half a pint of rancid milk worth?

First there was WRAP, the egregious quango spending millions of tax money to tell us we were throwing away edible food. Now the mechanical engineers have left their worm gears and eccentric shafts (sorry Mr Allis, journals) to report on food waste

Both seem to make the mistake I've commented on previously, assuming (for the purpose of a headline-grabbing figure) that food waste is worth the same as food. It isn't. Half a pint of rancid milk isn't worth half the cost of a fresh pint; potato peelings aren't worth the same as whole spuds, nor beef bones the same as a whole rib roast. Most of the food waste we produce is inedible, by-products of preparation such as peel or carrot tops or chicken carcasses, or stuff that's too old. 

In fact the IME acknowledge that only a tenth of the £480 'worth' of food thrown away by each family is edible. That makes £48 a year. Or about a pound a week. But I guess the headline "British families throw away £1 a week each of edible food" isn't what they're after.


Anonymous said...

"How much is half a pint of rancid milk worth?"

I dunno Raedwald but I've got four pints of raw unpasteurised milk that I foolishly bought, even though I have a compromised immune system and am advised not to drink...

...I thought I would steam it, for my "white" coffees, but it doesn't froth up, apparently there is too much lovely fatty cream in it.

Looks like I am going become a statistic, as that lot is worth around a fiver...

...In one week!

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Your point is taken, but not sure about this "Half a pint of rancid milk isn't worth half the cost of a fresh pint"

Surely the cost of something to the user is the cost of replacing it?

If that milk were actually needed, it would have to replaced at whatever the retail cost is (about 30p now)?

Of course, it may be that people are buying stuff they don't need. Isn't it terrible how capitalism and free markets have made us so rich we can afford this!

Tcheuchter said...

@ right_writes:

Let the milk "turn" i.e. go sour (not bad) then have some of it with brown sugar; wrap the rest in a muslin bag & hang it up for a few days and you will have cottage cheese. At least I think that's what we used to do about 60 years ago.

Raedwald said...

Ah, WY, but we're not replacing it for past consumption; we don't buy 1.1/2 pints and use 1/2 pint more than normal to 'catch up'

hmmm not sure that makes sense ..

Anonymous said...

I genuinely try not to waste food. Or anything for that matter. It makes more statistical sense to account for bones, peelings etc when foisting this stuff on people over the air as they have done twice this morning on R4.

I would consider that the biggest waste of food that is edible is takeaway stuff (OK, "edible" may be open for discussion here!). Kids buy this stuff and throw half of it away (or onto the pavement) while they walk down the high street stuffing their fat faces. The worst and most wasteful invention ever was the fast-food "restaurant" or takeaway.

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

@Coney Island...

I thought we were talking about food?

You had to lower the tone and bring slurry into it didn't you?


Budgie said...

Fast food? Well, they used to grind up whole cow heads to put in burgers - no waste there!

You must expect that the PTB must find a new theme to enable them to wag their fingers at us. CAGW is dead (official: Met Office confession via BBC), long live CAFW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Food Waste).

English Pensioner said...

I just wonder what the members of the I Mech E think of this. It is nothing to do with the profession, and were I a member I would be concerned that my subscription was being spent this way rather than furthering the interests of the members.
As for the rancid meilk, is this the same thing as sour milk which my mother, if I remember correctly, used for making scones?
The crime is that nothing is done with the waste food, during wartime there were yellow bins, chained to lampposts, for scrap food which was collected daily to feed pigs (or so we were told), but now feeding such food to animals is banned. In fact most of ours went to feeding the six ducks that my father kept for eggs.

Demetrius said...

We buy a lot of stuff direct from the farm and straight out of the ground. The preparation means that some bits will go in the bin. We would like a compost heap but living in a flat means we cannot. One reason for waste is that the packaging of a lot of foods means you have to buy a given quantity, not just what you need.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the losses are in organic food - too many slugs in the lettuce, too many worms in the spuds.
I've heard rates of up to 30% for stuff thrown out of the fridge, but I'd bet the losses in organic are higher.

Anonymous said...

One of the most pernicious causes of waste food is the unanalyzed dates for 'Use by' on virtually everything. The whole thing is established by a consensus of guess work . Yes every person below the age of fifty accepts the date as gospel and routinely throws away safe foodstuffs

Anonymous said...

One of the most pernicious causes of waste food is the unanalyzed dates for 'Use by' on virtually everything. The whole thing is established by a consensus of guess work . Yes every person below the age of fifty accepts the date as gospel and routinely throws away safe foodstuffs

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Sigh... the near epidemic the nannying or mendacious (or just plain stupid) f-wits concocting self serving BS scare stories is getting really tiresome.

Dr. Tim Fox is a "Chartered EnvironMentalist" see biog and gong hoarder with a taste for winger wagging and let's face it - embarrassing mission creep.

It seems that many professional bodies are attracting "non practicing" puffed up apparatchiks who are constantly peddling off-topic agendas from their (well remunerated) positions of trust.

Just like some f-wits in the BMA fancy themselves as authorities on climate physics and green lifestyle choices.

It seems like every day now I see folk campaigning hard to be put on the "B Ark" as per Douglas Adams fantasy - only now, we might just be able to do it thanks to PayPal, Elon Musk & SpaceX offering Mars Pioneer tickets (one way) at less than the annual salary of so many of these goons.

FrankC said...

Lovely picture of "food waste" in the bin.
Orange peel, egg shells, carrot peelings and tea bags. Not even a TV chef could concoct a meal from that lot.

Matt said...

English Pensioner, I can't speak directly for the I Mech E but if the IEE (now renamed IET) is anything to go by then they will have long-since become a mouthpice for the fashionable BS of the management consultants, computer modellers, big government and windmill brigade. They're therefore probably all in favour of this sort of thing.

Their obsessions seem to be change for change's sake (especially if it involves additional legislation to protect vested interests) and favouring complexity over elegance and common sense. In the minds of these people all engineering is nothing more than a number-crunching exercise to be performed by computers, yet they still believe that only paid-up members of their cosy little clubs are competent to carry it out.

In my view these institutions are greatly responsible for the poor state (and unattractiveness to new entrants) of engineering today. They perpetuate the image of engineering as a stuffy, dull profession whilst pursuing policies which actively sideline good engineers to deskbound, increasingly admin-based, jobs as they gain experience.

"Chartered engineer", if it ever was meaningful, is certainly not so any longer. It merely indicates that somebody is able to fill in forms and file reports saying how they have followed the prescribed application process to the letter. I am aware of one individual who spent two years in an electronic engineering job (after completing a previous two years of graduate training in the same company and presumably 3 or 4 years at university before that), destroying practically everything he touched and creating huge amounts of work for others rectifying his mistakes. He was unable to correctly apply a single NPN transistor as a saturated switch. He put in for chartership with the IEE and got it first time. Fortunately for the rest of us he almost immediately left his position in order to climb the greasy pole elsewhere.

I have it on good authority that he has since moved jobs multiple times, typically spending 6-9 months in each position. Seemingly he has obtained a significant pay rise with every move. One purpose of the institutions seems to be to permit this sort of thing to happen by providing "networking opportunities". This can't be a good thing.