Believe it or not, almost half of all food produced worldwide ends up in the trash — whether during processing and transport or when discarded in supermarkets and household kitchens. That’s enough to feed a billion hungry people in the world! When food is thrown out, all the resources to grow, produce, package, and transport it are also wasted (along with your hardearned dollars). Wasted fruits and vegetables alone cost the average Canadian household over $600 per year.
The answer to the problem is not necessarily to clean your plate (despite what your parents may have told you), but rather to make smarter choices when purchasing, cooking, preparing and storing food.
BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
- Create a menu plan for the week and shop according to that plan — avoid stocking up at the grocery store if you don’t have a clear idea as to what you are going to make with all the food you’re buying
- Avoid buying in bulk if you know you won’t be able to eat it all (regardless of how much of a “deal” it is)
- Share perishable bulk items with a friend or family member.
- Invest in a deep freezer to store bulk purchases that can be frozen (such as meats, seafood and frozen produce)
STORE FOODS PROPERLY
- Take produce out of plastic bags when you get home (wrappings suffocate the produce and speed up the decay process)
- Delay washing fruits and vegetables until you know you’ll consume them within a day or two
- Keep produce whole as long as possible to extend its life (avoid ripping off fruit stems and chopping days in advance)
- Store produce like this to maximize freshness:
GROW ON YOUR OWN
Start growing your own herbs on the window sill, a vegetable box on the patio, or a full garden or greenhouse. Some plants can even be regrown from kitchen scraps! For example, white stems of green onions will regrow when placed in a cup of water and potato scraps can be dried on the counter then planted in soil.
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE
- Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays and add to iced coffee or smoothies
- Freeze unused fresh herbs in ice cube trays with olive oil or melted unsalted butter; add to frying pans when ready to cook
- Freeze over-ripe fruit, like bananas, in small storage bags and use in smoothies or thaw for baked goods
- Invest in a variety of small glass storage containers so you can freeze food items like supper leftovers, or batch-cooked soups and stews, in single-serve portions
- Keep a list on your fridge and freezer of items that need to be consumed quickly (otherwise they might get lost in the back)
- Try to buy fewer food items that come with a lot of packaging — shop for cereals and grains at bulk food stores, portion out yogurt from a larger container, or try making your own granola bars and baked goods
- Consider composting so you can make use of food waste