Wasted food - hand it over to the wildlife

They say most families in Britain throw away one third of all the food they buy. That alone will be enough to condemn us to our descendants quite apart from all the other mischiefs we get up to.

I thought I was above such stupidity until one day I looked in the bread bin and saw pretty purple patches on the loaves.

Then I noticed potato peelings in the grot bowl, ready for the compost. My mother would have said tut-tut by now.

She boiled them up for the chickens.

When I was in the RAF a daily visitor to the camp was the swill man with his enormous bins taking the cookhouse debris away to his pigs. Does that happen today or do we dump all this food in landfills?

Drive along any country lane and you will find half empty drink cans hurled into the verges, together with half-eaten burgers, batter from fish and chips, shopping bags with unopened packs of butter and bread rolls and apples.

They’ve never had it so good was a saying that condemned old Harold Macmillan when he was Prime Minister even though it was true. People don’t want truth about themselves.

So: horrors, I have caught myself out in the waste game. The loaf with the beauty spots of some ageing, ancient French aristocrat, long past its sell-by, sneered up at me from the waste bin.

At this point are you like me and get a mental image of a starving child encrusted with flies crying for food in the Sahel deserts of Africa or in the slums of Bangladesh? I expect so.

What to do then. I can’t post it to Africa but at least an inmate of the wildwood can have it.

In the past I have fed yellow-necked mice and dormice on the bird table. The latter are quite tame and will let one within a foot or two before becoming unsure.

No wonder they have become rare in Britain. They’re all asleep now in their nests under the coppice stools so I have tamed a couple of bank voles again and even though they are rodents like rats they do no harm to me.

Here is one of them in the autumn taking crumbs from the spotted loaf.

Another to clear up waste food is Charlie, the three and a half year old cock pheasant who has avoided the guns every week of every shooting season during his long life. Marsh tits eat crumbs as much as great tits and blackbirds, and any waste goes into making their beautiful songs, feathers, and personalities.

So I feel virtuous and pleased with myself after all. Also I’ve picked up twenty three drinks tins off the roadside verge and recycled them and the plastic bags with the remains of takeaways.

Who needs New Year resolutions? Just do the recycling in your own way and like me you will feel smug after all.

Happy New Year to everyone and here’s to a waste-free year.