Food waste is something that we all do at some point. We all hate throwing food away, it costs us money and is bad for the environment. It doesn’t feel so bad when we think we are the only one but when we look at some statistics we can get a better feel for the impact food waste has.
A report by Second Harvest, an agency that works to reduce food waste
Did you know: 58% of all food produced in Canada – 35.5 million tonnes – is lost or wasted. The annual cost of this food waste is $1766.00 per household. According to the research, there are 2 types of food waste and loss: avoidable, which occurs when produce, for example makes it to market but is not purchased; and unavoidable, which occurs when inedible food by-products, like animal bones are discarded. The report identifies some of the causes of “avoidable” food waste and loss.
Included in these causes are: • Consumers buying food at the grocery store, particularly when there’s a sale, and throwing the surplus away. • Consumers and retailers throwing out food near or past its best-before date, despite the fact product dating practices “have no correlation to food safety” and the food can often still be eaten or donated. • Produce being left to rot in the field due to labour shortages, or low prices creating an environment in which it is no longer worth it for farmers to harvest. • Thousands of acres of produce being “plowed under” due to cancelled orders. • Fish being caught and tossed back into the water to die if they don’t match a quota.
Following is a Checklist we can follow to help reduce our food waste in our household.
Food Waste Checklist:
1. Take stock of your fridge before shopping: vegetables and fruits account for the majority of our food waste. Try not to overstock on these perishable items.
2. Make a Meal Plan: Having a general meal plan for the week will cut down on those impulse buys.
3. Best Before? Steak, eggs and canned soup… all kinds of fridge and pantry items have a best before date. In Canada, pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less must have a “best before” label.
Most perishable foods remain safe to eat after this date has passed.
Expiry dates and best before dates are two different things and often get confused. “The best before date has nothing to do with the safety of the food. It has everything to do with the taste of the food” says Ellie Topp, a professional home economist. Expiration dates tell consumers the last day a product is SAFE to EAT. A food should never be consumed after its’ expiry date.
It’s important to check food labels carefully and purchase items with a maximum shelf life, keep in mind, many foods are not necessarily unsafe after the “Best By” date has passed.
4. Food Storage: To keep food fresh longer make sure it is stored correctly. I know, I know…this is where I get to give all the benefits of using a Beezy Wrap® beeswax wrap (ha ha). Some food items actually wilt when stored in plastic wrap, like lettuce and sprouts. They will stay much fresher wrapped in a beeswax wrap. Freezer storage can be boosted too with proper wrapping of food.
5. Buying in Bulk: Sometimes a great idea…sometimes not. When buying in bulk we often end up throwing out our wonderful purchase because we don’t use it fast enough. Keep an eye on those bulk purchases as we may be able to break them down into smaller portions to freeze and they will still be great for use.
6. Food Use: Sometimes we waste a good portion of the fruits and vegetables we are using, we discard perfectly delicious stalks and peel that we could be use in other recipes. Broccoli stems are edible and delicious. Stale bread will make excellent croutons. Wilted fruit is great in a smoothie or why not make a lovely cooked spread for toast or bread. Wilted veggies are great to add to a soup or stew.