Food waste is a worldwide epidemic, and it's well past time the average person started fighting back. Due to Covid-19, we have seen people buying food in bulk, which eventually they might not be able to consume and may have to throw away.
More than one-third of all food produced globally is wasted or spoiled. Americans throw away up to 40% of the food they buy, and organic matter in landfills provides 20% of all methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes considerably to climate change. We probably don’t realise how much food goes in the bin. Nobody wants to eat spoiled or old food, so the obvious answer is to throw it away? Unfortunately, it all adds up and this becomes a serious problem. And we’re not just wasting food: All those groceries in the trash add up to almost $165 billion lost annually, not to mention the environmental resources that are wasted on growing food that is thrown away.
Being conscious of what we buy and consume and making effort to reduce our food waste not only helps the environment but also helps the pocket to save some money. Even minimal changes to the way you shop, cook and consume food will help reduce your impact on the environment. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Let's look at some easy ways to reduce our food wastage:
1. Shop Consciously
It sounds simple, but this is one of the most important things you can do. When you go food shopping, make sure you don't buy too much food or only buy what you need. Since Covid-19, we all have reduced our grocery store trips but try to buy food just enough for 14 days and make sure not to hoard or bulk buy. Plan out your meals, and make a detailed shopping list with the ingredients you'll need, and when you're in the store really stick to that list. We also recommend taking a 'shelfie', a photo of your fridge and cupboards to remind you of what's there.
2. Get Creative
Get experimental with ingredients in your fridge that are about to go off. Try different combinations of food or look up recipes based on ingredients you have on sites like supercook.com and you may surprise yourself with a new yummy meal.
3. Store Food Properly
This is another one of those “small change, big results” tips. Little changes like keeping your cilantro in a jar of water in the fridge, not storing your onions and potatoes together, or keeping your tomatoes, ginger and garlic at room temperature deeply effects how long your perishables last.
4. Use Everything
When cooking, use every piece of whatever food you’re cooking with, whenever possible. For example, leave the skin on cucumbers and potatoes, sauté broccoli stems along with the florets (they taste good too; we promise!), and so on. Bonus: Skins and stems often have provide nutrients for our bodies. Why not use off cuts of veggies or excess food to make smoothies or homemade stock!
5. Buy 'Imperfect' Produce
Too many times we don't buy a fruit or vegetable because it is not perfect looking, a weird shape or a brown mark. We are all guilty of it as we do sometimes shop with our eyes. These food are however perfectly good for consumption and provide the same taste and nutrition, but gets thrown away as they have less demand and lowers sales. Picking an imperfect produce is an easy way to reduce food waste.
6. Use the Freezer
The freezer is the magic pause button for preventing food waste. So, next time you have cooked too much stew or are unsure what to do with that last bunch of kale before it goes bad, freeze it! Freezing effectively extends the shelf life of many of your favourite ingredients and recipes, stopping waste in its tracks. Keep a list of what’s in the freezer and when each item was frozen. Place this on the freezer door for easy reference and use items before that time
7. Understand Expiry Dates
Turns out those expiration dates don’t always have to do with food safety; rather, they’re usually manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality. If stored properly, most foods stay fresh several days past the 'use by' date. If a food looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be fine. If any of these elements are off, then it’s time to toss it.
Never going to eat that can of beans? Donate it to a food kitchen before it expires so it can be consumed by someone who needs it. Clean you fridge and pick out items that you might not consume or is about to go off soon. If you see something that you know you won’t eat or no longer need then donating it to a food bank would be a big help. Check out this link for Food Banks in The Netherlands.
Hate potato skins? Don’t feel like turning wilted vegetables into soup stock? No worries; food scraps still don’t need to be tossed. Just start a compost pile in the backyard or even under the sink, and convert food waste into a useful resource. When food scraps end up in landfills, they release methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than C02. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we compost anything that we cannot eat.
There are endless ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle your food waste. Not only will the practical tips in this article help you waste less food, they may save you money and time as well. By thinking more about the food your household wastes every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the earth’s most valuable resources. With a small amount of effort, you can cut your food waste dramatically, save money and time, and help take some pressure off Mother Nature.
Cheers to less waste and more delicious memories in your kitchen!