Food waste is a global problem and a growing concern. Here at Pipers Farm, it is a subject we discuss at great length - how we can minimise our waste as a responsible business, and how we can help you to reduce yours at home.
The United Nations estimates that if farmers all around the world fed their livestock on the food we currently waste and on agricultural by-products, enough grain would be liberated to feed an extra three billion people, more than the additional number expected to be sharing our planet by 2050.
The Pipers Farm way
As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said "Pigs can be a highly effective recycling system, with the potential to turn a massive problem of food waste into a delicious solution".
At Pipers Farm all of our Saddleback pigs are grown on mixed farms. These farms grow a range of crops that once harvested leave behind edible roots and leftover vegetables that our pigs hoover up. Rearing pigs like this provides one of the most sustainable ways of managing a mixed farm, ploughing and fertilising the ground in the most natural way, preparing the ground for the next crop, minimising the use of machinery and inorganic fertilizers.
You will also find our a herd of our pigs grown amongst traditional orchards, where our Saddlebacks gobble up windfall cider apples and mast fruits. These orchards used to provide apples for the region. They were once pressed and juiced to become gallons of local cider. With larger swathes of land now growing more commercial varieties of apples, many of these traditional orchards are now defunct, leaving the apple crop otherwise falling on the ground and going to waste.
In addition, at HQ, we feed our pigs an array of leftovers from the farm, including vegetable peelings and stale bread in a bid to convert any of our homegrown waste into useful calories and for healthy and nutritious food for our pigs.
We only ever feed our Pipers Farm pigs wholesome 'real food'; soya-free pig nuts (15%) and forage, leftover crops, leftover vegetables, pasture, apples, nuts and berries (85%).
The industrial way
Land is being cleared – including the precious Amazon rainforest - to soy and other crops to feed farm animals, particularly pigs. Much of Europe’s mainstream livestock feed is made of soy, grown in South America where rainforest is being cut down at an alarming rate. Almost all (97 per cent) of global soy production is used for animal feed.
Rainforests are home to among the world’s most diverse wildlife; they help prevent soil erosion and the emergence of deserts, and crucially they are part of the system that creates rain worldwide that, in turn, helps farmers to grow our food.
On top of this, we are turning what could be a valuable natural resource – leftover food – into a huge environmental problem, by dumping it in landfill sites and leaving it to rot. Rotting food produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, which contributes to the devastating problem of climate change that is threatening us all.
Waste food often also contaminates clean materials such as glass, plastic and cardboard that could otherwise be recycled. Keeping waste food out of landfill would help to reduce greenhouse gases and increase recycling.
The Pig Idea
Food waste is a global crisis. A third of all food globally is wasted. All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US and Europe.
We contribute to this crisis with current legislation regarding the feeding of food waste to pigs. Around 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion (the next best recycling option). Under current European laws, feeding most food waste (such as catering waste) to pigs is banned.
This practice not only contributes to global hunger and environmental disaster but affects economies locally UK pig farmers are being put out of business by expensive grain prices, when they have a ready-made food source for their livestock in the form of food waste.
We're backing the campaign to allow farmers to feed food waste to pigs. You can find out more about 'The Pig Idea' here.