The more I think about this, the more unreasonable it sounds. We have so much of it, yet we go and buy more, hoard on it and then let it rot. We buy things which are edible, don’t know that they are and then trash it. We order in at the peak of our hunger, even when we know dinner time is a set hour and end up over ordering, guess where that excess goes? Thats right- after a short stay in the luxury of the fridge, it goes into the bin. Food waste has also so much to do with our state of mind, the way our brain is tuned and sometimes the fact that we just don’t know better.
The simple truth is that the world produces more than enough food for all of us, yet MILLIONS suffer from hunger. The complex truth is that food systems are complex, food systems are broken and we never feel like we will be enough to bring change. But we are, individual action is not just important it is essential. How can we expect change when we don’t understand whats going on?
Here are my top tips to reduce food waste at an individual level
- 33% of household waste generated is due to trimming perfectly edible parts of the produce-
Educate yourself on what is edible and what is compostable. Potato peels, beetroot peels, onion peels, banana peels and even orange peels which are often trashed are actually edible. Refer to my recipes on the feed and be a #ZeroWasteHero
- Organise your fridge –
Starting with something as basic as organising your fridge can start you on your journey as a #zerowastehero . For the most part, we’re all visual beings and whatever’s out of our sight is also usually out of our minds. So often, we shove things at the back/bottom of the fridge and forget about it only to find it weeks later – rotten.
We can easily turn this around towards #ZeroWaste by buying lesser, planning our meals, and understanding what part of the fridge is best suited for storing produce.
Here’s how we can all take a meaningful step towards #ZeroWaste in our own homes: • FIFO – First In, First Out. All the perishables that were bought first should be eaten first, and an easy way to do this is to add a basket with an “EAT ME FIRST” label.
• Never put foods on top of the fridge, since heat from the fridge can spoil even bread, cereal boxes, bananas, etc. Use that space for things like recipe/kitchen books, etc.
• Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, pumpkins, sweet potatoes should be kept at room temp and not in the fridge.
• Fruits and veggies should be kept separately to avoid waste. Fruits produce ethylene as it ripens which speeds up the ripening of other produce, which can make veggies spoil faster.
• Meats and proteins should be kept in the bottom shelf or drawer because it’s the coldest and the best shelf for perishable items. Moreover, keeping meats on the bottom shelf helps with avoiding contamination if leaks happen. • Keep herbs in water on the top shelf with beverages. • Condiments with natural preservatives should be placed on the door because it’s the warmest area of the fridge, these items have longer shelf lives because of the preservatives.
3. Bread is one of the most tossed items in the world –
With over 60 percent of the worlds calories coming from 4 crops, one of them being wheat, are we wasting food and killing #biodiversity at the same time? An easy way to preserve your stale bread is to make bread crumbs, croutons and a grandma style bread pudding.
To make bread crumbs dry out your stale bread in the oven at 150 for about 40 mins and blitz in a food processor to your prefer grind! More recipes for stale bread to follow!
4. Use Best Before Dates as guidelines and not as directives
Start relying on your five senses! A best before is simply a guideline where as an expiry date is something which lets you know that the food is not safe to eat anymore.
A use by date is applied if there is a health risk in eating food after that date, whereas a best before date is more about quality – it does not necessarily mean food is harmful, but it may lose flavor and texture. A lot of food is still safe to eat past the #bestbefore date for which we have to apply common sense and use our senses. An insight of how much food is thrown out in super market dumpsters everyday can be seen on accounts such as @anurbanharvester .
5. Fermenting and pickling are age old practices used to preserve food
Nootropics and gut friendly foods maybe a trend today but the act of preservation through drying, pickling and fermenting are ancient techniques of saving food. In Artic climates food was preserved via freezing and drying was the method used for tropical climates. Without preserving techniques humans would have had to be on a constant move to hunt and gather for fresh foods.
Three ingredients ensure that your food lasts longer and those are always available in our pantry- SALT, SUGAR and VINEGAR!
Three tips to ensure you don’t waste good produce are- 🌎🍃Mature and underripe food is ideal for canning and pickling. 🌎🍃Ripe produce is best for eating fresh, drying and freezing. 🌎🍃Overripe produce is best suitable for cooking and freezing (jam or sauce the fruit and stew/soup the veggies)
6. Ugly food tastes delicious- Reports show that farmers are forced to throw away 30 percent of the produce before it even hits the market based on cosmetic grounds. Can we change this? Talk to your farmer about purchasing imperfect, funny and wonky looking produce and reduce food wasted and lost. An easy way of using cosmetically imperfect produceis soups, roasts, stocks, cakes and depending on your knife skills even salads.
7. The most important one, CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE ABOUT FOOD WASTE
At a global level in affluent countries millions of tonnes of food is wasted at the consumer level, more than 33 percent of the food wasted at a consumer level is due to the lack of knowledge on what’s edible and what’s not. Composting is great but it should be the last option after eating, feeding and donating to food banks. We have been conditioned in believing what parts of a produce are edible and due to this training we tend to mindlessly throw away perfectly edible produce.
How do we stop this mindless practice?
🌍🌱 Talk to your farmer, farmers are superb banks of knowledge, they will ALWAYS help you figure out what parts are edible and what needs to be composted.
🌍🌱 Research- the resources you put in will be economically rewarding , saving food is saving moey and resources.
🌍🌱 Talk to your favourite chefs- with sustainability the core of many restaurants now, chefs will be happy to help with recipes and tips!
🌍🌱 Tap into the knowledge of your ancestors, the older generations lived a way more sustainable life by cooking from scratch, growing their own food, preserving food, reusing and repurposing.
A little bit of creativity and a change in perspective of what we think is trash vs food can take us a long way.