As we hurtle (I have never used the word ‘hurtle’ before at the blog!) toward December, and the festive period, my mind is consumed with food.
And as it’s Food Waste Friday, I thought it timely to have a debate on food consumption at this time of year.
Historically Christmas has been (and is) an abundant time. Particularly abundant in the area of food, as many celebrations are. What would the big day be without a traditional Christmas dinner?
Whenever I think of Christmas (and in particular seasonal food), I always think of Victorian times. Probably because this is when the commercialisation of Christmas began. At the start of the 1800’s the holiday was hardly recognised, yet by the end of that century it was the main annual celebration. Personally I prefer Easter – but still I do love this time of year.
“The Christmas feast has its roots from before the Middle Ages, but it’s during the Victorian period that the dinner we now associate with Christmas began to take shape. Examination of early Victorian recipes shows that mince pies were initially made from meat, a tradition dating back to Tudor times. However, during the 19th century there was a revolution in the composition of this festive dish. Mixes without meat began to gain popularity within some of the higher echelons of society and became the mince pies we know today.” (source BBC)
But 1 Christmas dinner quickly multiplies into 4, and more commonly a single pack of mince pies, or a discounted tub of chocolates turns into 20 by New Years Eve.
That isn’t to say the festive period shouldn’t be extended. There are different groups of people with whom we may wish to celebrate Christmas, and yet may not be able to spend the actual day in their company. But to eat 2 tubs of Celebrations (I chose this brand because it’s my favourite :)) each week from the end of October isn’t really upholding tradition, it’s just consumption.
In the UK there’s a very apt advert running for a major supermarket. Cleverly done, it combines our general dislike of Christmas product stacked high on shop shelves earlier and earlier each year, with a sentimental slant that allows permission to start buying festive food (even if we really do know it’s too early). It’s subtle but demonstrates that they understand their customers thinking while gently reassuring them. After all, what is 1 pack of mince pies, added to the trolley, before we’ve had time to turn the clocks back?
((You can find the advert (buried among others) in this Guardian round-up.))
I’m not immune. Our first pack of mince pies has been consumed. Interestingly though, the advert had the opposite effect on my psyche. It reminded me of the consumer game that’s being played. And this year I don’t want to be a pawn.
(This post explains what the True Cost Of Christmas is to me)
My actions won’t be perfect, I will succumb to temptation, and in moderation that’s okay. After all ‘It’s Christmas!’ (the ultimate ‘pass’ to consume whatever you choose and in whatever quantity). However I will endeavour to ensure that what is consumed is done in a mindful and conscious way.
What has this to do with Food Waste?
In my mind food that is consumed mindlessly can be as wasteful as food that doesn’t get eaten.
In reality the types of festive food stuffs that are added to our baskets this time of year, typically have a long shelf life. They may not become ‘waste’ in the true sense of the definition. They may however be a waste of calories, of our money and of plastic, packaging and transportation.
‘Bah Humbug’ is ringing in my ears. My suggestion is not deprivation, it’s about being conscious regarding consumption. I’ll be enjoying what I truly want, I will savour it and will endeavour not to mindlessly consume.