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Food & Hunger

This Is the Second Most Wasted Food in the UK — But You Can Help Change That

We’ve all done it. Gone to the supermarket hungry, bought more than we need, and ended up putting some of it straight in the bin.

In fact, the average UK household throws away £700 worth of food a year. 

And it’s the humble potato that is the second-most widely thrown away food across the country, just after bread, with Britons ditching nearly half of the fresh potatoes we buy — more than 5.8 million potatoes every day.  

But a new government campaign has been launched to end that. 

Take action: Sign the Petition — Call on the EU to Halve Food Waste

“Save Our Spuds”, launched by Love Food Hate Waste, is a drive to encourage Britons to take better care of their potatoes, and thereby extend the amount of time we have to use them. 

Generally, the reason for throwing away potatoes is that they don’t look as appetising as they did when we first bought them — they’ve sprouted, turned green, their skins are wrinkled, or they’ve gone a bit soft. 

But most of the wasted potatoes are still perfectly edible, and they could have been saved. 

Read more: This Global Citizen of the UK Hates Food Waste So Much She Launched a App to End It

“Potato season is underway, which will see a surge in sales throughout autumn and winter. And with that, a staggering amount of waste,” according to Love Food Hate Waste , which is run by government advisory body Wrap. 

“The humble spud is one of the most demanded food items, with 1.7 million tonnes bought by UK households every year,” it continued. “Unfortunately, nearly half will end up in the bin, largely because they were not used in time. Correct storage can keep potatoes fresher for longer, meaning more time to come up with meal ideas.” 

As well as reducing food waste, looking after your potatoes will save you money — with the price of the wasted potatoes in the UK adding up to £230 million a year. 

And it all adds into the 15 million tonnes of food wasted every year in the UK — 7 million of which comes from households, according to Wrap.

Read more: The UK Is Working to Block EU Plan to Halve Food Waste by 2030, Say Campaigners

But it’s not too late to start saving your spuds, through careful storage or just cutting off the bits that have gone bad. 

They need to be kept in the original wrapper or a cloth bag and kept in a cool, dark place about 6C. It’s also a good idea to keep them away from strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic. 

What you definitely shouldn't do is take the potatoes out of the pack and stash them in the bottom of your fridge.

Other storage tips, rescue remedies, and recipe suggestions for your leftovers can be found on the Save Our Spuds website

Some supermarkets are also playing their part, trying to cut down on the number of potatoes being wasted by selling them in opaque packaging — to stop light reaching them and turning them green. 

Global Citizen campaigns to put an end to hunger and malnutrition around the world — including by ending food waste. You can join us by taking action here .