FOR CHANGE CLIMATE
With COP26 only a year away, the latest Scraps food waste campaign from the Glasgow Science Centre comes just in time to demonstrate simple recipes from top chefs such as Gary Maclean that encourage families to make the most of ingredients. Colin Cardwell by
As a multi-award-winning chef, mentor and tireless promoter of innovative cooking, Gary Maclean has earned plaudits. Now, the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) has invited the Scottish national chef and senior lecturer at City of Glasgow College to lead the “Scraps” initiative, which highlights food waste as a problem related to climate change.
In the campaign, he will join Glasgow chefs Julie Lin of Julie’s Kopitiam and Rachna Dheer of Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, which aims to show that everyone can get involved and get creative at home in the kitchen.
Scraps is a friendly solution to a serious issue in anticipation of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) coming to Glasgow in November 2021. In 2016, Zero Waste Scotland found that 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent were released by food waste from Scottish households-while at least one-third of all edible food produced worldwide is never consumed, enough to feed two billion people or a quarter of the world’s population.
For years, Maclean has been passionate about this issue. “As a chef, it was made clear to me back in the 1980s that food waste was a negative thing – though at the time, not because of the environmental effect, but because it was a waste of money that affected the profit and loss situation of the business.”
Today, he says nothing goes in the trash can in his kitchen, either at home or at work, and with the amount of food he sees in the trash, he’s grown increasingly irritated over the years. I’ve always loved touring to see how my food is made. I really can’t believe how much time, energy and effort it takes to develop and manufacture it before it ends up in the kitchen when I look at the complicated supply chain that brings food to our tables.
“It is appalling that so much of it ends up in the trash can. It is not only throwing it away that produces greenhouse gases, but those gases are produced by growing or raising the food itself.
Of course, the challenge is convincing the general public – we don’t necessarily want to be told “what to do” to alter our actions.
“We need to give people good consumer advice and make sure they recognize the impact of food waste on our environment and that using food wisely is beneficial to both themselves and the planet they live on,” Maclean says.
This, he adds, means nothing less than a drastic shift in our everyday habits and lifestyle.
We are usual creatures, including myself,” he says. “We all have between seven and ten meals that we go back to over and over again, we still go shopping on the same day of the week, park at the same location, and walk through the store to buy the same things as the week before. Then we go home, take the chicken from the bottom of the refrigerator, put it in the trash can, and replace it with the chicken we bought the next week.
“It’s not a purely Scottish or even British phenomenon; it happens all over the Western world.”
In several ways, he notes, we just don’t take food enough seriously. “We see it as a chore or a necessity, but we don’t see it as a pleasure. I think people spend more time thinking about what shoes to buy than their weekly grocery shopping.”
Stephen Breslin, CEO of the Science Centre Glasgow
The spiced quinoa, spinach, greens and broccoli tarts with lettuce and a Parmesan crème fraiche dressing featured in Maclean’s Scraps video may be a candidate, but he doesn’t believe there’s a particular recipe that will change the way we deal with food waste.
“I wanted to show a real-world dish where I basically just used what I had in my kitchen,” he says. There was nothing staged about it, and it wasn’t a recipe I’d written beforehand.
With the idea of making a cake with quinoa, I literally went through my kitchen and picked up bits and pieces – and the beauty of the dish is that you can really put something in it. Stems of broccoli