Summer Pudding. Make dessert. Save the planet.

Let’s begin with some cheery news. In a 2012 report on food waste, the National Resource Defense Council stated that 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That amounts to more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Financially, Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year.

But even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. The process of getting food to our tables each year:

  • eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget
  • uses 50 percent of U.S. land
  • consumes 80 percent of the freshwater used in the United States.

Most of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.  This is truly a waste when one considers that one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food to their tables and could use some of the food we throw away.

Globally, a third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tons per year – gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems. In the UK, 15 million tons are wasted each year, including 34% – 44% of all bread produced in the UK.  If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third-greatest emitter of GHG emissions.[i]

What can we do? We can be more mindful about how much food we buy and how much of it goes to waste. And we can find ways to use extra fresh food before it goes bad. That’s where Summer Pudding comes in.

Summer Pudding is a dessert that comes from the UK and Ireland. We (and others) guess it probably was created at a time when people did not let food go to waste.

Summer Pudding uses stale bread and a bucket of whatever berries are in season. With a bit of assembly, it delivers a show-stopping dessert to rival its better-known cousin, the Figgy Pudding. Summer Pudding requires only a few minutes on the stove to release the juices from the berries. The bread is cut into strips and used to line a bowl or pudding mold. The berries are spooned into the bread-lined bowl, any extra juices are poured over it all, it’s placed in the refrigerator for six hours or so, then unmolded. The result will look something like the photo above.

Summer Pudding is a perfect way to use the masses of strawberries and blueberries and raspberries you could not resist buying when they came into season.

Want to try your hand at Summer Pudding?  The recipe on BBC Good Food is simple and straightforward.

If the assembly instructions are confusing, watch the video below, which will show you step by step.


So before the berries are gone, make a pudding. A guilt-free dessert that’s good for the planet.


[i] These figures, from credentialed sources, appeared on the website for Toast, a craft beer launched in the UK in 2016 that is brewed using fresh, surplus bread that would otherwise be thrown away.

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