{ don't waste your food }


Don't you just hate when THIS happens? ----->
My husband purchased a big flat of gorgeous pears at Costco this past week {which we have done many times} and we were surprised to discover the bottoms were dark and bruised after a couple days in our kitchen. {No longer a very appetizing lunchbox treat.}

A few years ago I likely would have tossed the whole bunch and not thought too much about it. However, I have learned a few things in the past couple years that have opened my eyes to the issue of food waste at home and around the world. So, instead, I folded these ugly-but-still-edible pears into my Grandma's yummy muffin recipe and the brown skins went into my compost bin.

Farmers, ranchers, processors and retailers use new technologies and best practices to bring food to our kitchens in a sustainable and affordable manner. Thanks to these improving technologies, the food production chain is becoming increasingly more sophisticated in sustaining natural resources while feeding a growing population. Yet, as a whole, Canadian consumers don't seem to be making the same sustainable strides in our kitchens.

I was shocked to learn that $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters in Canada each year. When you consider the energy, water, land, labour, transport and other inputs used in vain to produce that wasted food, the lost costs exceed $100 billion.

Almost half of that food waste -- 47 percent --is happening in homes like yours and mine. It is estimated the average Canadian household throws $1,456 worth of food in the garbage every year. I can think of a lot of better ways to use that kind of money, can't you? 

When it is estimated that the world will need 60 percent more food by 2050, I think it is important to realize how we as consumers can be part of the solution in our very own kitchens. The good news is big strides can be made in our home with a bit of awareness and a few small changes.
  1. Plan. Meal planning might be common, but it is not always effective. Fresh foods bought with the best of intentions, can still go bad. {Life happens.} Planning not only for the meals I will make, but also the meals I won't make, how I will utilize left-overs and all remaining ingredients, helps me create shopping lists that reduce food waste.  
  2. Buy less. Costco is great. However, buying in bulk doesn't save me money unless I have a plan for using all the food. If I can freeze it, have room in my freezer, and plan to use it in the foreseeable future, it might make sense to buy it. Otherwise, I tend to throw away less when I buy less. {On a side note, even though those free samples are gold when you have kids in the cart . . . keep strong, keep to your list and don't shop hungry!}    
  3. Use what you have. Labeling and keeping an inventory of what I have and when I should use it has helped tremendously in my quest to waste less food. I keep a simple list of things I put into my chest freezer and I mark them off as I pull things out. {I used to write right on the top of  my white chest freezer with a dry erase marker until the magnetic markers started being used more for art than my list.} The last couple meals of the week I simply plan to utilize meat I already have in my refrigerator or freezer and any of the remaining veggies I have left in the fridge. Depending on what I have and what we feel like this might develop into a stew, a hearty salad, a stir-fry or a veggie-packed bolognese sauce.   
  4. Smaller portions. Unfortunately, a large amount of food wasted in my home comes off my kids' plates. I am finally learning to let them have more say into what is put on their plates {aka, one bite of the dreaded thing} and encouraging them to start small and go for seconds once it is eaten.    
  5. Store carefully. I use my freezer a lot. I often batch cook meats and meals so that I can freeze excess for later. I also freeze single servings to heat up for a lunch another day. If it looks like I will be unable to finish that whole bag of fresh spinach before it starts to spoil, I will wash and freeze half of it, then break off chunks of the frozen spinach to use in everything from scrambled eggs to spaghetti sauce. {Shhh...don't tell my kids.}  I often consult this Government of Canada food storage chart for freezer and refrigeration guidelines. Local Registered Dietitian Brooke Bulloch from Food to Fit Nutrition had this great blog post last week with tips for safe food handling at home. 
  6. Use your senses. When in doubt, throw it out. Or, maybe not. A lot of perfectly good food still ends up in the landfill or down the drain. Why? Certainly, we all want to serve the freshest foods to our families, but in our quest to do so we could be throwing nutrients and our hard-earned money away. Take for example "best before" dates. These are guides for freshness, not short for "toxic as soon as." Many foods such as dairy or eggs are good days or even weeks after the date printed on their packaging. Instead, use your sense of smell and sight as a guide for if something has gone bad. Did you know, you can still use non-curdled milk that simply tastes a bit "twangy" in baking?  If it looks curdled, that is a different story.  
  7. Donate extra. If you can't freeze it or bake with it, find friends, a food bank or Friendship Inn to give the food to before it spoils.
Do you have any tips for reducing food waste? Share them below. Also, for the rest of October's Agriculture Month, share your food stories with the hashtag #OurFoodHasAStory on social media platforms for a chance to win a weekly prize pack. Click for full contest details. 




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