One third. This is the astonishing amount of food waste that is lost or wasted each year during the process from farm to the fridge.
With one in five shopping bags ending in the bin, food waste not only affects our hip pocket but also affects the environment and our health. Rarely when we think about ways to bring environmentally conscious decisions to our life, do we consider the impact of what goes in the kitchen bin (it is decomposable right?) but this is where we are mistaken.
From pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture, precious water consumption, clearing of forests, emissions through transport and greenhouse gases or simply the fact that an animal has sacrificed its life. Food waste is real, and for these reasons, I think it is about time we became a little more mindful around the issue.
With the silly season upon us, festive food waste tips this balance towards yearly highs. Buying excess food ‘just in case’ or for reasons of gluttony is not a good enough reason. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations states “If we could reverse this (food waste) trend, we would have enough food to feed the world’s undernourished population, as well as help meet the nutritional needs of a planet estimated to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050.”
5 Ways to Reduce Festive Food Waste
- Don’t overbuy
As straight forward as it sounds, check your fridge before you shop or plan to cook from ingredients you already have in the pantry – that are at risk of reaching their overdue date. If there was an apocalypse tomorrow, we could all probably survive a good week on the food already in our possession.
- Have smaller portions
As portion sizes increase so do our waistlines, but it is at a cost. Avoid 2 for 1 deal or buy 2 and save and understand it’s not really ‘saving’ anything in the long run. Serve yourself 20% less on your plate and you probably won’t even notice the difference.
- Be smart
Notice the use-by date of a food and ask yourself if it’s going to be eaten in it’s entirely before then. Instead, look to buy smaller portions of a product and learn to love your freezer. Create your own meal with any 5 ingredients you already have and instead of swiping leftovers in the bin, manage excess that could become tomorrow’s lunch.
- Use it up
If you have leftover tomatoes that are at risk of spoil, turn them into a pasta sauce. Perhaps you overestimated your banana purchase? Make a smoothie or cake or better still peel and freeze them for a yummy ice cream blended with yoghurt.
- Store it better
Lettuce and leafy greens go better in a container or bag, as does celery. Onions love a cool place out of the fridge and cheese needs to be wrapped in wax paper or stored in an airtight container. Unless you’re an avid fruit eater, avoid displaying them on the kitchen bench as their shelf life will be prolonged if kept in the fridge crisper.
So next time you visit the supermarket, before each purchase place a value on each item and whether you could possibly go with less or better still without. The festive season should not be about how much food is on the table (or what is under the tree for that matter) but rather who we are spending it with.