Some food waste, such as bones, eggshells, tea bags, fruit cores and peels, is unavoidable. However, over 50 per cent of food wasted in Toronto single-family households is avoidable, including leftovers and untouched food that could have been eaten at one point. We often waste good food because we buy too much, cook too much, or don’t store it correctly. It’s estimated that avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household over $1,100 per year. Food waste is a significant issue both locally and across the country.
According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste in Canada, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year, costing Canadians in excess of $17 billion. In addition to the economic costs, food waste has substantial environmental impacts. Wasted food wastes the resources used to grow, produce and distribute that food to consumers and produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road.
Food and other organic material incorrectly put in garbage bins ends up in landfill where it decomposes and produces greenhouse gases like methane. Toronto’s Green Bin program was designed for unavoidable food waste (e.g. scraps, peels, cores). Putting avoidable food waste, such as leftovers or spoiled food, in the Green Bin creates the need for additional resources and management and increases costs.
Spend some time on the weekend planning meals for the following week.
Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before shopping. See what needs to be used up and then think of a meal to make with those items.
To preserve freshness and nutrition, use perishables like seafood and meat earlier in the week and save staples (pasta, dairy, eggs) for later in the week.
Buy fresh vegetables in smaller amounts and use frozen vegetables to fill in the gaps.
Keep it fresh
Keep food fresh longer by storing it in the correct place and setting the temperature in your fridge to 4°C or lower.
Set one produce drawer to high humidity to store vegetables that wilt, like leafy greens, and another produce drawer to low humidity for fruits and some vegetables that produce ethylene, like apples and peppers.
Freeze items to make them last longer. Bread can last up to three months in the freezer, chicken can last up to nine months and most vegetables can be frozen for eight months to a year.
Use it up
Soak wilted vegetables like celery, lettuce, broccoli or carrots in a bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes to reinvigorate them.
Fruits and vegetables past their prime are not only great in smoothies but also taste great in baked, stir-fried and grilled dishes.
A best before date is not the same as an expiration date. If a package has remained unopened even after the best before date, it can still be of good quality and freshness, as long as it has been stored properly.