I bet you have heard statistics about food waste. They have become another part of the discussion on environmental concerns.
In this week’s column, I want to focus on respecting our food. My hope is it helps us all improve our awareness and we waste less out of respect for the food and for our community.
Food is wasted at all points along the food chain from farm to table, but did you know 20% to 25% of the average Canadian household’s garbage is uneaten food? And more than half of that food is edible.
When we buy food, we can make a difference by being more thoughtful. Fresh fruits and vegetables are wasted more than any other kind of food, even though they can be transformed in a multitude of ways. Think of these simple ideas the next time your crisper gets overloaded:
• Plan your meals and make a deliberate grocery list to avoid overbuying.
• Freeze portions that cannot be used in a reasonable time (many fruits and vegetables can be blanched and frozen, or cooked into a fruit compote/pie filling or vegetable stock)
• Consider composting to reduce the amount of food going into the landfill.
• Share food. Donate extra portions to family or friends, consider a community share and trade network to keep things fresh and interesting for everyone.
• Only buy what can be used in a week or less. Don’t be fooled by the possible false economy of bulk buying.
Even with all these advance measures, it’s hard to always get portions right. I am married to a chef who is not very keen on eating the same meal twice in one week, so our leftovers usually need to be transformed.
I have frozen a portion of something to have on a solo night, but often we have refurbished elements of a meal and create something else with them.
Many of you are probably thinking, “I know how to make shepherd’s pie with leftover mashed potatoes, or use cooked veggies in a soup or stew. You’re not teaching me anything new.” But have you heard of all these ideas?
There is even a whole website based on reducing food waste that features a section with recipes.
I hope all these options help you realize our food always deserves respect. We can get creative, even with leftovers, creating a whole new version of a meal and having fun with our food in new ways.
I remember my parents telling me I should eat those sandwich crusts and other less-appealing tidbits because of the starving children elsewhere in the world. I know the idea occurred to me, “why don’t we just send those bits to them?”
It’s not very practical to send sandwich crusts across the world, but who says those crusts can’t be salad croutons instead?
If we change our thinking about how we make that sandwich and use those crusts purposefully, maybe we can avoid some waste.
That kind of thinking is how we get ahead of food waste.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.