Millions of human beings still don’t have enough to eat and famines continue to be a serious risk in many parts of the world. And yet, the wastage of food is a massive problem in developed countries. Buying too many groceries, forgetting what’s in the pantry and buying the same ingredients twice, going out to eat or ordering takeout at the last minute instead of cooking with what’s in the refrigerator, cooking too much and not finishing what we serve on our own plate, purchasing an ingredient that a special recipe calls for and using it only once, leaving it to waste until its expiration date—the scenarios are endless, the problem is always the same: we waste food constantly. On a daily basis. Without thinking about it.
Most of us are too young to have lived through the big wars when food was scarce all across the globe and rationing was a daily concern. Our supermarkets of plenty, our instant-gratification society, our ever-increasing portion sizes, our fast food nation—all of these phenomena have made us forget that access to food is not a given for everyone on the planet.
An American journalist named Jonathan Bloom felt so strongly about the issue that he started a blog called Wasted Food detailing just how much food is wasted across the US and calling people to action. The blog then became a book: American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food, which Green Queen highly recommends. The book calls our attention to the things we do unconsciously every day which cause us to waste so much of our food. He also provides ample suggestions on how to remedy this. Below are some of them and some of Green Queen’s very own:
- Your refrigerator has too much stuff in it! Declutter, organize, compartmentalize- so that when you need something, it is easy to find and use. For example, keep all your condiments together so that if you need one, you can quickly tell if you have it or not.
- Label everything and if you are really ambitious, put expiry date labels on prepared food and fresh produce! Alternatively, storethe older food in the front and centre part of the fridge so you can remind yourself to use it first.
- Spend time on supercook.com or any of the other online recipe banks– they allow you to input a list of ingredients and the sites come back with recipe ideas based on what you have. Super useful and great for preventing wastage of fruits/veg/meat that is going to go bad soon.
- Are your refrigerator and freezer at the right temperature? We throw away so much food due to spoilage and most of the time, the spoilage occurs due to inadequate storage. Appropriate food storage is extremely important- your fridge should be between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius and your freezer should be between -17 and -18 degrees Celsius. Get yourself a thermometer and make sure
- Freeze leftovers right away. When making a big meal such as a casserole, soup or stew, eat half and freeze the other half. That way, on days when you are too tired to cook, all you have to do is defrost! That will save you from ordering expensive take-away or buying unnecessary items at the supermarket.
- Are you subscribed to a weekly vegetable delivery or a monthly cheese club? If these memberships are leaving your refrigerator full of items you don’t have the time nor inclination to eat, de-activate them. Buy only when and what you need.
- The same goes for bulk-buying. It may sound great to take advantage of the deal on that gallon of pickles but if you are not going to eat them, the deal isn’t worth it!
- Make a meal plan every Sunday night, take stock of what’s in your pantry and do a grocery shop for the week. If you know what you and your family will be eating, you will be less likely to end up at the supermarket after work on a Wednesday night wondering if you bought that salmon fillet last week after all or if you are out of lettuce.