If eating jam doughnuts saves the planet, so be it | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

My latest family campaign has been a crusade to reduce food waste and eat as healthily as possible.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:54 am
Alun’s dream of a healthy, world-saving picnic quickly evaporated.  Picture: Shutterstock

The Covid kilos are kicking in and I’m worried we’re all becoming the Golightlys (remember them, the obese faily from Beadle’s About in the ’80s?).

The food waste issue is talked about a lot by my children thanks to social media. There have been lots of shocking images uploaded of great food simply being binned.

What I don’t understand is that we keep talking about how bad it is when shops throw great food away and then we do nothing about it. Or, at least, feel there’s nothing we can do about this problem.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This is a regular pattern for the Newman family. Talking is easy but it’s the action that involves movement that’s the problem.

I appointed one of my children to take on the important environmental issue and come up with a solution. It won’t come as any surprise to hear that within a day or two, they had discovered an app.

This app follows shops that sell, at a massive discount, unwanted, perishable food that is destined for landfill.

The concept is, for example, our greengrocer in town might post online that they’ve got some veg that would go in the bin. They then put this on the app that you can have ‘something’ for £3. (The ‘something’ is key here.)

You then reserve what is commonly called a ‘lucky bag’. At a time agreed you can collect the bag.

Pretty much all of the companies have a similar collection time (from 4-4.30pm) which normally aligns with closing time.

You have no idea what will be in this bag. As is now the requirement on every experience, you then rate the lucky bag for quality, value, and quantity.

The concept was authorised and, as an added twist, I came up with the idea that we would use this plan for an afternoon picnic.

To set the scene, my wife and I would head to the picnic venue with water. The children reserve and purchase one of these bags and then we rendezvous and eat what we get.

We’re saving the planet and eating healthily one lucky bag at a time.

It was exciting. In my mind, I imagined perfectly good fruits that would have been binned. Paninis and sandwiches with smoked salmon and prawn. Cartons and bottles of pressed fruit juice that were ever so slightly on the turn.

But this was not the lucky bag we had for our picnic. Bear in mind that I’m looking to save the planet and EAT HEALTHILY.

The kids rocked up, excited, with a large white paper bag stuffed with items.

Between us, we had: one sausage roll; two massive white chocolate cookies; four YumYums (sugar-coated rectangle doughnuts, delicious and evil); four massive raspberry glazed doughnuts; four massive (size of a child's head) strawberry jam doughnuts; and four plain glazed ring doughnuts.

It was the sort of picnic reserved for either a decathlete or a stag party who ordered food at 1am for a laugh.

I was outraged and caught in a dilemma. I want to save planet Earth and eat healthily.

In this scenario, I could only do one of the two.

However, just like Superman, I made the ultimate sacrifice.

The planet must come first and I tucked in with gusto. Best picnic ever. Delicious food and saving the world. Not bad for a simple picnic.

Sorry dad, I hate camping

When I was growing up, my dad was mad about camping. He absolutely loved it.

There were loads of us so a trailer was needed. In those days, a tent weighed the same as an elephant and if it was raining you were shot if you touched the sides as rain would seep through the canvas.

We had fantastic family holidays across the UK and France. We had the camping chairs and the cooker set up. The trek to the farm shop for milk. Heady days and without a doubt my dad was the ringmaster.

When I became a parent, I thought that I'd be the same. I bought a tent, chairs and a cooker. I took the family camping – a smaller headcount means it will be easier, I thought. However, that’s not the case.

You’ve got to have the camping attitude. It needs to be in your DNA. I loved it as a passenger but as a captain it was hell. The rain; the responsibility; the cold, wet clothes; the hot mornings. It’s a human boil-in-the-bag. Throw a few children with tummy aches in the mix and welcome to actual living hell.

For years I tried. I was in denial. I thought different campsites with different offerings would help.

Finally, it dawned on me. I hate camping. I’m not my dad, he was a superhero.

Others love it. But I saw the light and it was a realisation.

This also meant no panic booking and no global tent shortage.

But the lack of holiday options will make me envious of those who choose summer under canvas.