Food Waste, How We Can Make a Difference
Food waste is a topic that I am deeply passionate about and which deserves our immediate attention. It has been estimated that 35.5 million tonnes or 58% of all the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, and we the consumers contribute to 21% of that avoidable waste right from our kitchens. Being that almost a quarter of all landfill volume is food waste, and that waste creates methane, a greenhouse gas, reducing food waste at home will save us money, and help us fight against global warming and climate change. In this article I share some of my favorite tips and cooking tricks that I use in my own kitchen and which if applied more often can help us make a difference on a larger scale!
My grocery shopping starts in my refrigerator. I keep a list of all the foods and leftovers I have and include them in my meal plan for the upcoming week. This ensures that I buy only what I need and plan to use, while helping me waste less food. Old produce, that no longer looks its best can be used for making soups, sauces, baked goods or can be frozen and used for making a quick, healthy smoothie or purée for kids. Don’t be so quick to get rid of leftovers, freeze or repurpose them into a new meal that everyone will love. Finally, when you get to the grocery store, make sure to buy local and in season more often for maximum freshness and a lesser impact on the environment!
Store Food Properly
Proper food storage can actually make your food go the extra mile and reduce food waste.
- Always place the foods that spoil more quickly where you can see them, at eye level, in clear, see through containers, and use them first.
- Some fruits emit large amounts of ethylene, a natural gas that accelerates the ripening of other produce when stored together. Storing fruits and vegetables separately increases their chances of not ending up in the compost.
- Your freezer is great for storing leftovers, but also for the little ends of food that you would normally toss (wine, milk, minced garlic, egg whites, herbs, tomato purée, orange peel, yogurt). Simply freeze them in ice cube trays and store them in reusable bags for the perfect quick boost of flavor for your next meal.
- Treat expiration or best before dates as a guideline, in most cases they represent the food’s quality, not whether it’s safe to eat.
Cook Everything…Even Food Scraps!
Carrot peels, broccoli stalks, parmesan rinds, chicken carcasses, these all have a second and maybe even third life! When making a squash recipe, save and roast the seeds for a salad or soup garnish, or use as is for a healthy, crunchy snack. If you usually peel all your vegetables, save these in your freezer to flavor and boost the nutrient content of your homemade broth or toss them in oil, salt and pepper, place them on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven to make veggie chips! Stale bread? Tear it up and use the pieces at the bottom of a bowl to soak up all the juices of your soup or process it into breadcrumbs for your next fish and chip.