Tesco stocks green satsumas in drive to reduce food waste | Business

Tesco has started selling “green” satsumas and clementines after relaxing its quality specifications in its latest attempt to reduce food waste.

The flesh inside is orange, ripe and edible, but as a result of recent warm weather in Spain the skins have failed to turn the normal colour.

By selling the so-called easy-peelers with green skins that resemble limes, the supermarket says it will slash food waste by giving them up to two days’ extra shelf life.

Green satsumas are already in the shops and clementines – a Christmas favourite – will follow shortly. Tesco claims to be the first supermarket to relax the rules on this type of fruit.

“At the moment green easy-peelers fall outside of the general quality specifications set by UK supermarkets but Tesco has made the leading move in order to cut down on food waste,” said Tesco’s citrus buyer, Debbie Lombaard.

“As a result of this move to take out a handling stage in the journey from farm to fork shoppers will gain extra freshness for their satsumas and clementines.”

To accelerate the colouring process, Spanish growers in the Valencia region have been putting the easy-peelers into a ripening room, but this extra handling has led to a small amount of fruit being damaged and going to waste.

Satsumas and other easy-peelers, as well as oranges, initially grow as a green fruit but turn orange as nights cool.

Over the past few years warmer Spanish temperatures in the early growing season for satsumas in September and October have remained higher into the autumn, delaying the natural process by which the fruit turns orange.

Green satsumas on a tree.

Tesco says the green satsumas will help reduce food waste. Photograph: Alamy

Tesco’s “perfectly ripe early season satsumas” come in a 600g net bag and cost the same (£1) as conventional orange-coloured ones. Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, sells nearly 15m 600g bags of satsumas and 75m bags of clementines each year.

Supermarkets have been criticised for contributing to the UK’s food waste mountain by sticking rigidly to quality specifications, and routinely rejecting “ugly” or mis-shapen, but edible, fruit and vegetables grown by suppliers.

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have helped drive a campaign to encourage consumers to be less obsessed with perfection, and for supermarkets to relax their rules to sell more “wonky” carrots and other odd-looking vegetables and fruit.

Last month, Tesco announced plans to join forces with suppliers to tackle global food waste. It has widened other quality specifications to take more of farmers’ crops, most recently with British-grown apples.

The changeable weather in Spain has been a challenge for supermarkets stocking salads and vegetables out of season in the UK. Earlier this year they were forced to ration lettuce and courgettes after snowstorms in Spain ravaged crops.

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‘In eastern Europe, we don’t prefer to eat garbage’: readers on food inequality | Inequality

‘Cats and dogs refuse to eat it’

My husband and I both studied and lived abroad for many years, and we can honestly say what we find in supermarkets here [in Romania] is not food. Lots of people become vegetarians only because they fear the quality of the meat and meat products available. Many say certain products contain no meat at all. The taste is horrible, the texture questionable, and the cats and dogs refuse to eat it.

Frozen pizzas are smaller here and don’t taste as good, orange juice has less real oranges in it, and nobody touches the fish fingers. It’s scary when even the fruit available is obviously full of hormones. We had a grapefruit for a while and it became an experiment to see if it would ever go bad. After four months we gave up and threw it away – but it still looked fresh.

It’s like they can deliver whatever product and call it food, because we don’t know any better. Check out life expectancy in Romania and why it’s so low. We feel like less than human when we can’t choose to eat healthy food. As to the claim that brands adjust their products to the local taste, I would like to comment that here in eastern Europe, we don’t prefer to eat garbage.
Ana, Romania

‘Spitting in the face of consumers’

Visit the border towns in Burgenland at the weekend and you’ll see shops in this once dead-end part of Austria packed with shoppers from Slovakia seeking good-quality products, even for a higher price. The argument about “different local tastes” is spitting in the face of all consumers here. If companies are so sure of this argument, I challenge them to offer both types of products and see how sales go. But the monopoly is something they fear to lose, so unless forced, they won’t.
Oliver, Slovakia

‘There is no issue with these products’

As a market researcher, I used to work at different companies in Hungary. There is simply no issue with these products. These companies want to serve the local communities: they produce different varieties, test these on customers, and find out which is the best one they can sell with profit. If it tastes a bit different so be it, as long as this difference doesn’t cause any harm and the products are still considered edible. I think it’s simply [Hungarian prime minister] Viktor Orbán and his spin-doctor’s attempt to blame the EU and the west for something that is the result of globalisation and cultural differences.
Imre, Hungarian living in UK

‘The yoghurt contained flour’

There have been rumours about food and product inequality for many years here [in Hungary]. In Geneva I bought a yoghurt, and the consistency was entirely different to the same product I bought in Budapest. Later I learned from a friend in Hungary who had flour intolerance that he was not allowed to eat this brand of yoghurt in Hungary because it contained flour! Another example: the liquid detergent I bought in Budapest is less thick and more transparent, as if it were a diluted version of the same brand we bought in Geneva and Zurich.
Anna, Hungary

‘Dangerous consequence’

These practices have a more dangerous consequence. It has turned many people in this part of the world against “Europe”, and allowed the authoritarian president to whip up “anti-western” sentiments. These companies are to a large degree responsible for the poor relations that now exist between the different countries in Europe.
David, Russia

‘Dumpster of the EU food market’

I visit western Europe once or twice a year. The same products, marketed under the same name, are of inferior quality in Romania than in Germany or France or the UK. Not just prepackaged foods but fruit, vegetables and meat as well, when comparing brands available from the same chain of supermarkets. When I hear the excuse of catering to “local tastes”, I start to hyperventilate. Nobody has an appetite for inferior food – and the solution is, most of the time, “add more sugar”. If you add to this the fact that food is generally more expensive in Romania, you get a clearer picture of why Romanians might think they are considered the dumpster of the EU food market.
Dorin, Romania

‘Only their hypocrisy upsets me’

How convenient “local tastes” are: more sugar, lower percentage of fruit, lower percentage of meat; never vice-versa. But it makes sense. People want to buy western brands because it makes them feel good – but if western companies delivered their standard products, they would be too expensive for local consumers. If these companies wanted to be honest and create a sub-standard local brand, then advertising would be far more expensive than just adapting the existing brand. The natural solution was controlled damage to their standard brands. It’s only their hypocrisy, pretending that this is the “local taste”, that upsets me.
Mihai, Romania

‘Inferior comfort food’

I have one particular product that triggered my (amateur) research on the topic: frozen pizza. It was my favourite comfort food. Suddenly it looked and tasted different, definitely inferior. I also noticed that, for the first time, the cooking instructions were not in German, Dutch, English or Spanish. Instead, they were in the languages of central and eastern Europe. Years later I lived in the Netherlands, and noticed the same pizzas looked like the old versions I loved. Comparing the boxes, I noticed the “western” pizza contained seven slices of cheese, compared to five in the “eastern” version. The eastern pizza weighed less, but contained more saturated fats and sugar; hence also more calories.
Lara, Slovenia

‘Laundry will never smell as good’

In Poland you can find shops reselling goods bought in Germany, especially cleaning products and chocolate. My uncle in Germany still brings washing products for my mum. Your laundry will never smell as good and for as long if you use Polish versions of washing liquid brands. My cousins were always jealous of my nice-smelling clothes (now they get their washing products from Germany too).
Roza, Pole living in France

‘Salmon is a disgrace’

One of the biggest culprits is fish – salmon is a disgrace in the Czech Republic. It is usually cooled to a point before it freezes, then thawed before being passed off as fresh salmon. The cooling data and thawing is written on the side of boxes – but the retailers take advantage of the fact consumers cannot generally read English-language storage instructions. Savvy buyers know to buy goods where labels on products have Czech language labels stuck over the original text. This means the product that is sold in western markets is identical to the Czech market product.
Nigel, Czech Republic

‘Cling film doesn’t cling’

We’ve known for years the goods here are of lower quality, but are sold at greater cost. Well-known brands of wine that are “bottled” in the Czech Republic taste rancid compared to their UK counterparts. Toilet paper is rough, flimsy and will actually give you paper cuts. Cling film doesn’t cling, stock cubes add no flavour.
Maie, Czech Republic

‘Capitalism hasn’t delivered’

We are used to buying basic groceries in the west and transporting them to our home countries. The tediousness of it contributed to the end of communism. However, it seems capitalism hasn’t delivered “what we paid for” either.
Sandra, Slovenia

Food industry statement

We take the accusations of alleged “dual quality” very seriously. Consumers are core to our business, and equally important wherever they are. It must also be stressed that whatever the recipe, our food always meets European standards and remains the safest in the world. The companies currently in the spotlight have rigorous quality management systems in place to ensure consistent quality across their brands, all over the world. The composition of products may sometimes be slightly different between countries for various reasons, but this does not necessarily imply “dual” or “inferior” quality between east and west European markets. For example, differences in composition can also found between the UK and France, or between Italy and Sweden.
Florence Ranson from FoodDrinkEurope, the industry’s lobby group in Brussels

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Spanish farmer goes out on a limb for cow legs cured à la Iberian ham | World news

In the chilled chambers of an industrial estate on the edge of a small Extremaduran town and the rolling pastures at the foot of the Sierra de Gata, a lawyer-turned-cattle-farmer is engaged on a quest for gastronomic alchemy.

Alfonso García Cobaleda’s raw material is, to begin with at least, less than mouth-watering. From a hook hangs 66kg of cow leg, its deep red and off-white surface moist to the touch thanks to an oozingly high fat content.

But given salt, water, patience and a couple of years, it will become something rich, and – to many traditional Spanish gourmands – undeniably strange.

Inspired by the much-revered ham made from the Iberian black pigs that wander the harsh reaches of western Spain devouring acorns, García Cobaleda is trying to do the same thing with cows.

By crossing native Spanish and common international breeds with wagyu cattle and rearing them on his 500-hectare farm in northern Extremadura, he is striving to produce a cured beef similarly suffused with the flavours of the landscape.

García Cobaleda and some of his curing cow legs

García Cobaleda and some of his curing cow legs. Photograph: Sam Jones for the Guardian

Like jamón ibérico, thinly sliced pata de wagyu ibérico (leg of Iberian wagyu) almost melts in the mouth, but its flavour is milder and it lacks the ham’s warm, fatty and throat-coating tang.

Many people are sceptical before they try it, says the 46-year-old farmer, but those who do are pleasantly surprised.

“When they try it, they say, ‘This is ham.’ I’m not saying that; I just call it leg. People say it tastes like ham but it also tastes of beef.

“The cure is just like the one for Iberian ham. But it’s beef and we’re not trying to compete with pork. It tastes the way it does because of the pasture and the way their flavours find their way into the fat.”

He thinks its smoother flavour may appeal to northern Europeans who find jamón ibérico too strong. Ready sliced portions are already on sale for €120-140 per kg, while the first whole legs have already been reserved and will sell for €70 (£62) per kg. A 7.5kg leg of high-end jamón ibérico meanwhile, costs about €600.

García Cobaleda, who gave up law 17 years ago to help manage the family farm, is careful to stress that although his product should not be confused with Spain’s most famous ham, the two have much in common.

“Maybe some ibérico producers thought you could only call ham ibérico, but anything you produce in the dehesa (pasture) is ibérico – whether it’s a pig, a sheep, a cow or a wagyu cow,” he says. His cows, like the Iberian black pigs, also include fat-rich acorns in their diet.

Cutting slices of pata de wagyu ibérico.

Cutting slices of
pata de wagyu ibérico. Photograph: Sam Jones for the Guardian

“I call it leg of Iberian wagyu because it’s a leg, it’s wagyu and it’s ibérico because it’s reared in the dehesa. You could call it ham or haunch, but the main thing is for people to try it and see what they make of it and what they want to call it.”

The family came up with the idea of seeking out other breeds to enrich their herd of charolais and limousin cows six years ago. Keen to diversify, they bought wagyu studs and invested in Spanish breeds in danger of dying out because of a lack of profitability.

Today the farm, dotted with newly planted trees and overlooking a huge reservoir, is a living, ruminating moos-who of breeds and cross-breeds: tough tudancas, pure wagyus, pretty cachenas with their lyre-shaped horns, and a pair of Highland cows who wisely shelter from the sun beneath the shade of the holm oaks.

Orders for pata de wagyu ibérico are coming in from as far away as Austria, Russia and China, as well as restaurants in Madrid and the Basque country.

But for the moment at least, the gourmet cow-leg business remains small and very much a work in progress as García Cobaleda and his curing guru, Marta Recio, work to perfect their formulas.

“In a way I don’t want that to change; it’s good to stay excited and to keep on learning,” he says. “I’m a farmer – I want to learn from the butcher and the restaurateur and the cook and the consumer.”

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We should take pride in Britain’s acceptable food | David Mitchell | Opinion

A phrase really jumped out at me from a newspaper last week. The Times said a recent survey into Spanish attitudes to Britain, conducted by the tourism agency Visit Britain, “found that only 12% of Spaniards considered the UK to be the best place for food and drink”. That, I thought to myself, may be the most extraordinary use of the word “only” I have ever seen.

Has its meaning recently flipped? Has it been warped by an internet hashtag or ironic usage by rappers? Is it like how “bad” or “wicked” can mean good, and actors receiving awards use the word “humbled” to mean “incredibly impressed with myself”? Because, if “only” still means what I think it means, the paper is implying it expected more than 12% of the people of Spain to think Britain was “the best place for food and drink”.

That’s quite a slur on the Spanish. How delusional did it expect them to be? What percentage of them would it expect to think the world was flat? I know we’re moving into a post-truth age, but 12% of a culinarily renowned nation considering Britain, the land of the Pot Noodle and the garage sandwich, to be the world’s No 1 destination for food and drink is already a worrying enough finding for the Spanish education system to address. It would be vindictive to hope for more.

But it seems that’s what Visit Britain and the Foreign Office are going for. Last week the British ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, donned a union jack apron and went on the hit Spanish cookery programme El Comidista to advocate British cuisine and try to change the perceptions of the 88% of the Spanish population still currently in their right minds. It was his second appearance on the programme: the first was last year when he was “summoned” to explain Jamie Oliver’s heretical addition of chorizo to paella. He responded with a recipe for roast chicken with mustard.

This is all very jocular and a welcome distraction from Gibraltar, but I hope Visit Britain doesn’t get carried away with this food push. I really don’t think the 12% figure is one it should be disappointed with, even if, on closer examination of the survey, the respondents didn’t actually say they thought Britain was “the best place for food and drink”, just that sampling the food and drink would be a motivation for choosing the UK for a holiday.

Maybe some of the 12% are enthusiastic food anthropologists whose motivation for going anywhere is to try the food and drink. They’ve consumed everything from yak testicles to locust wee, so fascinated are they by humankind’s huge range of nourishment techniques. A bit of academic interest, and the memory of a disappointing white ant egg soup or crispy tarantula, might really help soften the blow of a first baffled visit to the salad cart at a Harvester.

You may say I’m talking Britain down, and I’m certainly not talking it up. I would argue, though, that I’m talking it along. Food here is OK. Or rather, it’s sometimes terrible and sometimes delicious but usually neither and it averages out as fine. Lots of us are really fat now – that’s got to be a good sign.

I think the host of El Comidista, Mikel López Iturriaga, got it about right when he said: “For many Spaniards, British food is the ultimate example of bad international cuisine…” – and there are many outlets on the Costa Del Sol that work tirelessly to recreate that flavour for British visitors – “…but I think that everything has improved substantially in recent years, and today it is much easier to find decent food.” So decent food is now available. That’s not a reason to pick Britain as a holiday destination – but it’s a reason not to be afraid to.

And our ambassador betrayed weaknesses in our cooking, even as he spoke up for it: “The idea is to combat the stereotype about British food and drink and promote the idea that we take ideas from around the world and we adapt them for this cosmopolitan cuisine we know today.”

Illustration by David Foldvari of a service-station sandwich on a silver serving dish

Illustration by David Foldvari.

What does that mean? Despairing of our grim native fare, we steal dishes from other countries and slightly ruin them? Put chorizo in the paella and cream in the bolognese and make baguettes with the consistency of sponge? Or was he saying that our comparative dearth of culinary excellence has allowed us a greater open-mindedness to other cultures’ food traditions, which has now dragged our own food standards slightly closer to par?

If you work in the catering industry, you may well be screaming at me for unjustly perpetuating this country’s no-longer-deserved reputation for shit grub. I’m sorry, and I almost certainly don’t mean you: there is, as I say, brilliant food to be had in Britain. There always has been, I suppose, but I’m sure there’s more of it now.

But the stereotype bemoaned by the ambassador has its basis in truth: delicious food has never been a cultural priority. In our collective national soul, we don’t believe that the niceness of meals is that important. Perhaps on special occasions, but not every day. So we get more crumbs in our keyboards than European neighbours such as France and Italy, which the 12% of Spaniards looking for gastronomic holidays would be well advised to visit first.

The fact that food has improved in Britain is a sign, not of a major change in those cultural priorities, but of two other factors: how international we’ve become and our competitive spirit. The food has been brought up to standard, for the same reasons that we’ve put in proper coffee machines and wifi – to show we’re keeping up. We proudly note how highly the restaurants of chefs like Heston Blumenthal come in international rankings even as we peel the film off our microwave dinners. In food, as in cycling, Britain can now win.

As most Spaniards noted in the survey, there are better reasons to go to Britain than the food: the history, the castles, the stately homes, the museums, the countryside, the coastline, the concerts, the theatre, the cities. We have an interesting country, an interesting past and we’re an interesting people: no nastier than most and hard to ignore. And, for better or worse, what we are, what we have, and whatever it is that our culture represents, comes from centuries of working through lunch.

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¡Madre mía! UK’s ambassador to Madrid cooks ‘British’ tortilla on TV | World news

With Boris Johnson busy comparing traditional Māori greetings to Glaswegian pub fights and Liam Fox venturing into the chlorinated henhouse, the task of restoring the reputation of Britain’s diplomacy and cuisine fell to the UK’s ambassador to Madrid.

Simon Manley hit on a novel solution: why not build bridges by meddling with that most sacred of Spanish dishes, the tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), on Spanish TV?

After all, things had not gone so badly for Jamie Oliver that time he decided to add chorizo to paella, had they?

Appearing on the late-night Spanish cooking programme El Comidista, Manley, 49, boldly dismissed suggestions that some formulas should never be messed with.

The show’s host, Mikel Iturriaga, who had entered the ambassador’s residence “on a diplomatic mission to defend Spanish omelette”, was having none of it.

“You do some pretty awful things with Spanish omelette over there,” he said. “And it’s an emblematic dish for us.”

Not for the first time, the worst transgressors were deemed to be Oliver and those who “commit atrocities” by adding chorizo, cheese, raw onion and, perhaps most egregiously, coriander.

To settle the matter, Iturriaga offered to cook Manley a tortilla in the ambassador’s kitchen. Before he could get through the door, however, he was politely force-fed a selection of premium cheddars washed down with beer from Cornwall and Suffolk.

Simon Manley

Enhorabuena a @ElComidista y @albertochicote por #ElComidistaTVTortilla 🍽 Sois bienvenidos cuando queráis para disfrutar de 🍺🥂y 🧀🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/aYybMF7Kv8

July 27, 2017

“Don’t worry,” said the ambassador, “the beers aren’t really warm”.

In what only a cynic could imagine was a scripted remark, Iturriaga posited that beer was being served because there was no decent wine in the UK.

Al contrario, replied the ambassador, without missing a beat. “Thanks to climate change and some important investment, we’ve got some really great wines right now, especially sparkling wines,” he said.

Had Manley been an Italian diplomat, he would have been juggling Ferrero Rocher and well into the second verse of O Sole Mio by now.

Once finally in the kitchen and issued with a regulation union flag apron – “revenge for the Spanish Armada?” wondered Iturriaga – the demonstration began.

Potatoes were sliced, eggs gently cracked into a bowl and a terrifying quantity of extra virgin olive oil decanted into a frying pan. A few minutes later, Iturriaga turned out a perfect, pale golden tortilla.


Simon Manley’s tortilla, left, was deemed inauthentic. Photograph: British embassy, Spain

And then, out of nowhere, came the bombshell. “I’ve made a tortilla too,” declared Manley. “A British tortilla using the recipe from our famous Jamie Oliver.”

The Spaniard’s eyes fell on the edible interloper with all the enthusiasm of a foreign visitor being pressed to try Marmite for the first time. Iturriaga’s hand flew, reflexively, to his brow.

“¡Madre mía! That really doesn’t look like a Spanish tortilla,” he said.

“Looks good, though, doesn’t it?” asked Manley.

“I’m not prejudiced. Let’s try it. Man, it’s got chorizo in it. How weird,” the host commented.

“Tasty, no?” said Manley.

Iturriaga glanced at the camera to deliver an extraordinarily non-committal “very tasty”.

With that, they adjourned to the dining room to solicit the opinion of a Spanish chef who managed to spot the difference between the two men’s efforts in a millisecond: “One’s a cake and one’s a Spanish omelette.”

The only truly awkward moment in the episode had come moments earlier when Iturriaga stressed the importance of slicing some of the potatoes more thinly than others.

“That’s easier if you have a mandolin,” said the Spaniard. “I bet the French embassy has a mandolin.”

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