Updated: May 24, 2020
I recently joined a webinar with celebrity chef Sarah Huang Benjamin and Ankesh Shahra, Founder of AgriMax & Director of VertiVegies organised by Swapaholic based in Singapore. The conversation was centered around gut health, food safety, waste, vertical farming, and how to minimise food wastage.
It has been estimated that 1.6 billion tonnes of food is wasted annually and "food waste and loss cost the global economy more than $940 billion a year," accordin to a study by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (Schatz, 2020).
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic food scarcity and food wastage was a topic of discussion and now more important than ever. Food is lost or wasted at different stages which include food production, consumption, and supply chain. With disruption in the food supply chain, there’s both an oversupply and shortage of food across the world. It's vital to understand how to reduce our food waste to ensure sustainability today and in the future.
Learning more about your relationship with food and educating yourself will encourage you to be more conscious while shopping and cooking. To reduce food waste consumers need to change the way they cook, shop, and learn how to stretch ingredients over multiple meals. Given the global pandemic many people are eating more meals at home, changing their behaviour, habits, and thoughts about food, and hopefully they’ll remain in the future.
While we can’t directly control the supply chain or production, here are a few ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle your food wastage now and in the future:
Use Leftover Ingredients: If you ate salmon for dinner use the leftovers for lunch the next day in a salad, omelette, or pasta.
Shop Smart and Realistically: This might require you to head to the grocery store more often, but try and buy only what you need for the upcoming week- this will encourage you to use all your produce.
While Cooking Don’t Over Serve Food: The idea of massive portions is driven by restaurant culture, cook only what you’ll eat.
Store Food In The Correct Places: Learn whether to keep your produce in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Avoid Clutter: Keep your pantry and fridge organised and when buying new groceries place your older products upfront so you know to consume them first.
Let The Expiration Dates Be Your Guidelines: Expiration dates focuses on food quality and not food safety, use your senses (taste and smell) to guide you instead.
Keep Track: Make a list of the food you’re throwing out so you can prevent doing so in the future; it’s also helpful to include how much you paid for the product!
Pickling, Fermenting, & Canning: This is a great way to perverse your vegetables and fruits to increase their shelf life for months.
Meal Planning: This is a helpful tool to ensure you only buy the produce you need and decreases the time to plan meals on the day.
Coffee Grounds: If you drink a lot of coffee, grounds are known to make excellent fertilisers for plants.
Pamper Yourself: Try preparing a scrub or mask at home with leftover products such as avocado, fruits, used teabags, or cucumbers.
Blend It Up: While the stems, ends and peels of produce may not be appetising in their whole form, adding them to a smoothie is a way to reap their many benefits (Petronzio, 2015).
Check out the zero waste cookbook Amazing Waste for more inspiration on how to upcycle your produce.
Petronzio, M. (2015, February 15). 11 practical ways you can reduce food waste and save money. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2015/02/15/food-waste-tips/
Reducing food waste takes innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/article/109462/food-waste/
Schatz, R. D. (2020, May 19). How 'Upcycled' Ingredients Can Help Reduce The $940 Billion Global Food Waste Problem. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/robindschatz/2020/05/19/how-upcycled-ingredients-can-help-reduce-the-940-billion-global-food-waste-problem/#7f7e04ef3ac9