As a nation the UK wastes 4.5m tonnes of food each year, the equivalent of 375,000 refuse collecting vehicles, enough to circumnavigate the M25 thirteen times. Latest figures also show that each year British households throw out an average of £700-worth of food that has either passed its sell-by date or is surplus to requirements.
There is hope, however, as lockdown has made many consumers re-think their relationship with food. With the need to do more cooking becoming a necessity, the subject of food waste became more prominent.
In a recent survey, 84% of those questioned claimed to have shifted their thinking and now believe food waste is an important national issue.
One important food category, mushrooms, are benefiting from this change in British attitude. UK and Irish mushroom growers are seeing this as further proof that their product is becoming more and more recognised as a food hero.
The fact that mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamin D – something that has been significantly highlighted as a force for good health – along with their year-round availability, affordability, and overall nutrition, has elevated this unassuming vegetable into the food super league.
Another fact which makes the mushroom extra special, along with tomatoes (except tomatoes are fruit) is the fact that mushrooms can make a meal anytime, from breakfast (on toast, or alongside a full English), to dinner with a Stroganoff or chicken casserole- there is nowhere a mushroom can’t go. It has proven to be a hero, sustainable ingredient used in home-cooking, witnessing a large surge in sales over the pandemic.
Mushrooms are not just an inherently sustainable ingredient, but also require fewer growing materials, water and energy than any other type of crops. Unlike the avocado, which use over 25m cubic metres annually of water – equivalent to 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Mushrooms are one of life’s easy veg to cultivate. Grown in ‘growing houses’ they can either be picked as button mushrooms or allowed to grow for longer and qualify as large mushrooms.
Harvested with a ‘one touch method’ to avoid bruising, the hero mushroom can be grown year-round and that gives it one of the lowest food miles – no need to import from far-flung destinations.
Article by UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers