Today is the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. Yes, food waste is such a big deal that the UN has decided to dedicate a day to it, and we think it’s a great opportunity to share some useful tips about how each and every one of us can waste less food! But first, some hard truths:
About 17% of total global food production is wasted globally, (11% in households, 5% in the food service and 2% in retail), which means all of the resources that were used to produce this food, including water, land, energy, labour and capital - are also wasted. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills generates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Loss and waste of food can also negatively impact food security and availability, as well as increase food prices.
So what can we, as individuals do? There’s actually a lot! Here are some tips for reducing food waste at home:
- It all starts with what and how much you buy. Plan your meals in advance, make a list and buy only what you need. If you can, shop more often and in smaller quantities.
- Next up is storage. Different products require different storage methods. Where you place them is also crucial. For example, scallions and celery last longer if you place them in a glass of water in your fridge. Bananas last longer if you separate them and keep them at room temperature. Research and learn how to preserve your favorite products for as long as possible.
- Your freezer is a friend, use it! Whether it’s a fresh loaf of bread or some vegetables that started looking not so great, freezing food is a great way to fight food waste. Use airtight containers, freeze in portions, and every now and then do a check up on what’s already in there. This can also save you time and trips to the grocery store later.
- Understand date labels. "Sell-by" means it has to be sold, not eaten, by a given date. "Best-by" means it will be at its peak of freshness, not safety, by a certain date. And "Use-By" indicates when the quality will start to go down. Simply remembering that can save a lot of food!
- Use it all. Are you familiar with the term "root to fruit"? It means using the entirety of the fruit or vegetable you are cooking, and there are many creative ways to do it! One of our favorite methods is keeping a “stock bag” in the freezer with all of the peels and trimmings of the vegetables we used, and when it’s full - making a vegetable stock.
- Something is about to go bad? Maybe there’s a way to save it. This also requires some creativity and research but a lot of the food you’re about to throw out can still be used. Stale bread? Make some croutons. Brown bananas? Make banana bread. Wilted lettuce? Put it in a bowl of cold water until it becomes crisp again.
- Compost if you can. It’s inevitable that eventually you’ll be left with food that you can’t use, composting is a great way to put even that food to good use. If you have a back yard you can set up your own compost. Some cities have communal composting systems in place. By composting you don’t only Reduce methane emissions from landfills but also help enrich the soil, retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Composting is awesome!