Supermarkets and I have a very love/hate relationship. They’re handy, yes, and provide me with lots of my pudding supplies, but some of the things they do make me really cross. The biggest, most infuriating thing is all the waste. Seemingly arbitrary sell-by dates mean they chuck out things which are still completely fine to eat. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself: everyday, at about 8p.m., the latest row of victims is lined up for their final plea, from a shelf in the reduced section. I’ve seen green bananas with days of life left in them, countless tubs of cream and yoghurt, sackfuls of potatoes, and numerous boxes of cakes and puddings, all destined for the bin behind the store.
Nothing makes me sadder.
They might as well be wearing hoods, plastered with stickers that read ‘condemned’. And my instinct is always to save them – but I can’t.
As hoggish as I am, I just don’t have the appetite or freezer-space to take them all under my wing. Besides, a lot of the time, despite being reduced, they still cost more than my budget allows. But not always…
Yesterday evening, I managed to turn up at Sainsbury’s at just the right time. They were starting their second wave of reductions, and an apple pie which had already fallen to under £2, was swiftly reduced to 69p. Score. I bought it, of course, and me and my chum ate it after our dinner, served hot with a nice scoop of ice cream. For some strange reason, a pudding tastes much finer when it’s bargainous. Perhaps that near-bin experience enhances the flavour. Who knows?
Anyway, as I crunched my way through that thick pastry, I couldn’t help but mourn for all the desserts I hadn’t rescued. The homeless. The unloved. Shivering in bins around the city. It seriously boggles my mind that anyone in London – nay, England – can go hungry, considering the volume of food waste that these supermarkets generate. Still, at least most of them offer a discount first. In my local M&S Food, all the unbought goods in their bakery section – cookies, croissants, bread, everything – are gathered in a plastic bag and thrown into locked bins each night, without even being reduced. Shame on you, Messers Marks and Spencer! Why must you be so selfish?
The first time I saw that big plastic bag, I begged the guy to hand it over. I could find a home for all those pastries, I said. But no. They wouldn’t let me have it.
Perhaps I should set up a sanctuary: the Pud-Hog’s Home for Lost Puddings; Gog Codd’s Pud-Pod; something like that. People could come for miles around to meet (and eat) my babies.
In the meantime, should you happen live near a supermarket that doesn’t hide its bins under lock and key, I suggest you go a-diving. There’s a whole load of decent free food out there, in desperate need of a loving new home. Your stomach would be just the thing.