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Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Pig Idea

I came across "The Pig Idea" on Facebook today via Tristram Stuart and it really got me thinking and reflecting on all that's happened over the last few weeks while I've been running my pilot Dustbin Diet course.

Yesterday in my DustbinDiet workshop the students were talking about food waste, using up leftovers and also using leftovers to feed pets.  The world has gone a bit mad - thinking that any food that we feed animals has to be specifically engineered for them by humans, hasn't it? Why is it better to feed your cat the same boring diet of highly engineered food pellets, than to share the rest of your tin of tuna with it instead of leaving the tuna to languish in the fridge?  Haven't we all done that at least once - forgotten about the tin of tuna we started until we find it on the next clear out of the fridge?

My mother-in-law's dog eats what she eats, mostly - and no, I don't think they dine at table together when we're not looking, but  Cookie appreciates a bit of gravy and a few peas along with his dog biscuits. There are rules, of course, like no cooked bones, but there's plenty that can go to making up a nutritional meal for both parties.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream manufacturers give their food waste in the US and in Holland to nearby pig farms (apparently they don't like mint).  My Mum used to teach in a local school in the days when schools served proper home cooked meals.  We came home each day with a slop bucket, that would feed our geese.  In return we'd give the school cook goose eggs - because they made great cakes.

How did we get into such a ridiculous state where we can't feed our slops to our pigs?  I had a vague idea that it was something to do with the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease but couldn't remember exactly what happened and why the EU ban on feeding food waste to pigs came about.  So I checked out some of the research on The Pig Idea website and this is what they say:

"[In 2001] feeding catering waste to pigs was banned by the British government in response to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). It was tentatively concluded that the FMD outbreak originated on a farm that was illegally feeding its pigs unprocessed restaurant waste. The government justified the ban because it considered that there was a risk of infected meat entering the food chain. It was originally intended to be a temporary measure, but a government-sponsored enquiry into the government’s handling of the disease outbreak (the Anderson Enquiry) recommended that the ban be continued. In 2002 it was extended across the whole of the European Union."

That seems a bit like the "no cooked bones" rule being used as a reason never to feed any food waste to your dog.

They also say that:  "With the correct biosecurity measures in place, [feeding leftover food to pigs is safe]. Cooking leftover food renders it safe for pigs, and also for chickens. Pathogens such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Classical Swine Fever are effectively eliminated by heat treatment. Pigs and chickens are omnivorous animals, evolved to eat all the kinds of food that humans eat, and there is no evidence that feeding them properly treated food waste is unhealthy either to the animals, or to humans. That’s why countries like Japan and South Korea encourage this practice instead of banning it."

I think, given the huge problem we have with food waste and the problems we're causing ourselves and the planet allowing deforestation in order to grow feed for pigs it seems time to call for a change.

Check out  The Pig Idea website and sign the pledge.

Of course, we still need to think about the waste hierarchy.  The best way to deal with food waste is not to have any.  But the next best thing is to re-use it. Raising pigs on food waste is the perfect circular economy, is it not?

Image from my "Ice Green Energy" post a couple of years ago

Friday, 7 June 2013

An eggs-ellent find

My local butcher has always sold free range eggs and I've bought them from there a few times, but recently they have introduced a twenty pence per half dozen discount if you bring your own egg box.

The eggs are £1.59 per half dozen (with the 20p discount) for large eggs.  Four eggs consistently weigh 266 grammes which makes a nice big cake.  I always weigh my eggs and use equal weight of butter, sugar and flour for cake-making.

Lemon drizzle cake and raisin and oatmeal cookies.

I am really keen to support this kind of reuse system.  It is bound to work well as the customer has the incentive to remember their egg boxes or have the pain of paying 20p per box more.  Carrot and stick is always a good combination.

Cardboard egg boxes are great on the compost, and the cardboard and plastic egg boxes are recyclable and collected by most councils, but reuse generally has higher carbon savings than recycling - and this system of egg box reuse is a perfect - yet oh so simple - example of a carbon saving system.  The Waste Hierarchy (pictured below) shows that the best way to deal with packaging is to prevent it.  If you can't prevent it then the next best thing is to prepare it for reuse and if you can't reuse it, then recycle it.  If you can't recycle it then ideally your method of disposal will recover some value from it - as it would if you were to compost your cardboard egg boxes.  As the Waste Hierarchy diagram shows, binning your egg boxes into landfill is the last resort - and basically shouldn't be happening!

The Waste Hierarchy

Image reproduced with kind permission of Scottish Environmental Protection Agency:

The first time I noticed the egg box reuse incentive (i.e. 20p saving) I didn't have egg boxes with me, but I knew I'd be passing the butcher's the next day, so as soon as I unpacked my meat I retrieved plastic egg boxes from my recycling bin and found a cardboard one that was awaiting being torn up to add to my wormery, and popped them in my bag.  The next day I was pleased with my 60p saving -  it was a cricket tea week - so I needed eggs for sandwich filling and eggs for cake-making.

I noticed yesterday the eggs from the little supermarket in our village were 10p per half dozen cheaper but my daughter bought those a few days ago to make a birthday cake (the butcher was closed) and the four eggs weighed just 214g.

So, I've got into the habit now of keeping my egg boxes in the bag I take to the butcher's, so I can always get my discount.  I'll be cake making for cricket tea this afternoon.  I'm thinking... lemon drizzle, fairy cakes, fruit scones and I might try making some chocolate cookies.