If a hunter were to say he/she shot an animal and threw away 1/3 of the of the meat society would crucify him/her yet, Statistics Canada estimates that close to 30% of the food we buy goes to waste. Since Canadians spend about 28% of their income on food this amounts to an estimated annual cost of avoidable food waste at $1,766 per household. Obviously, this is a hit to your bank account but what about the impact on the environment?
A 2018 report conducted by Second Harvest, an agency that works to reduce food waste, reported that food waste in Canada creates some 56.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions because food in landfills creates methane gas, which is "25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide", the report says.
Rethink how you view excess food and adopt these habits:
1. Plan Your Meal Ahead of Time – Meal prepping means you buy only what you need. In our urban societies we tend to think that going to the grocery store every couple of days to get just what we need is the most effective way of shopping; however, this often leads to buying more than you need and ultimately resulting in more wasted food because you may see things that are on sale that were not necessarily on your list and evidently you don’t end up eating all of that food. In fact, the number one root cause of avoidable food waste comes from consumers buying something at the grocery store on sale and throwing the surplus away.
2. Buy Food that is Effectively Packaged – You go to Costco on Saturday and stock up on meat. The problem is the package of meat is way too big for you to consume at once so you diligently divide it up into freezer bags into reasonably sized portions and freeze it for later thinking you’ve saved yourself some money and are such a savvy shopper. Well not exactly. Now you’ve used 2 packages for one purchase contributing more waste and plastic into the landfill. But more likely your Ziploc method does not end up keeping the meat as fresh as you had hopedand you may end up throwing out the meat because it is now freezer burnt and the quality has been sacrificed. Not so savvy now….
The best way to preserve meat longer term is to flash freeze and vacuum seal it. This not only
locks in freshness and prevents freezer burn but also preserves precious vitamins and enzymes.
3. Buy Local – Food production is much more than just agriculture and fisheries. After food is produced or caught it might be handled by wholesalers, processed, packaged, sold, prepared, repackaged and resold. Many of these steps include transportation, retail, or advertising services. This is a very energy intensive chain and leads to excessive food waste. If you buy local foods from farmers markets, stores that source locally or companies that deliver local food directly to your door you will eliminate many of the steps in the chain. This is not only better for the health of the environment but also healthier for your local economy and healthier for your body. Local, seasonal food is richer in micronutrients than its long-distance counterpart and you will know where your food came from - a concept very foreign to most people these days.
4. Eat Seasonally – The longer food spends in storage and transit when coming from other
countries, the higher the chance of it spoiling and becoming waste. Buying in-season produce from close to home can help reduce the risk of food becoming waste before it even gets to the grocery store shelves.
5. Avoid Clutter – What does clutter have to do with food waste? When your fridge is too
cluttered up with stuff you’ll be more likely to forget what’s even in there and much of what you have won’t be visible upon first glance so there is more chance things will expire or rot before you get to them. When you bring fresh food home move the “old” stuff to the front first and the new stuff to the back so that everything gets used up in a timely manner.