Food waste is quite a bigger problem than people realize it. The world is facing an unprecedented food waste crisis, which is contributing to more than 10 percent of global carbon emissions that drive the climate emergency.
It is disheartening to know the fact that nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year when the major population in some parts of the world is facing the problem of everyday hunger and malnutrition.
Apart from the wastage of food and money, discarded food is also one of the reasons for driving climate change. The discarded food that is sent to the landfills is left from naturally rotting there, releasing the methane gas which is a Greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
Why does the food go waste?
Food is wasted for many reasons. For example, often we buy more food than we need or cook meals that create unwanted leftovers, and then we throw the uneaten food away. Sometimes, we forget about the food in our fridge and cupboards, so it goes past its use-by date and we dispose of it.
We as individuals can reduce this practice by being smart and environmentally conscious shoppers.
Here are simple ways to reduce your food waste right now.
1. Be a Smart Shopper
People tend to have the habit of buying more food than they actually need. Some of these items have a very short self-life and they get spoiled before being used.
So you need to smart shop, buy those items in bulk that have a longer self-life and can be stored for longer even if they are not used completely during the week.
Consume the items that have a short shelf-life first so that they don’t get spoiled and thrown away.
Make the next trip to the grocery shop once you have used up the items bought from the last trip.
2. Store your food in a systematic way
Every food item type cannot be stored in the same way. Hence you need to be smart while storing the food. Many people are unsure how to store fruits and vegetables, which can lead to premature ripening and, eventually, rotten produce.
For instance, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions should never be refrigerated. These items should be kept at room temperature.
Separating foods that produce more ethylene gas from those that don’t is another great way to reduce food spoilage. Ethylene promotes ripening in foods and could lead to spoilage.
Some of the foods that produce ethylene gas while ripening include, Bananas, Avocados, Tomatoes, Cantaloupes, Peaches, Pears, Green onions etc.
Keep these foods away from ethylene-sensitive produce like potatoes, apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers to avoid premature spoilage.
3. Be Inventive with the leftovers
Most people have the habit of throwing away the leftovers or freezing them for an infinite time when they finally decide to throw them away. Instead, be inventive and use it in the same way or week in form of some other dishes so that you don’t feel repetitive.
If you have the habit of cooking a lot and storing it, storing leftovers in a clear glass container, rather than in an opaque container, helps ensure you don’t forget the food.
4. Get creative in the kitchen
Think of your kitchen as your playground. Remember when you were a kid and played restaurant, mixing everything you can find in your garden to prepare a pretend dish? Do the same with the food that you think will go bad soon and with leftovers.
Including parts of foods that aren’t usually used is an excellent way to repurpose scraps when you’re experimenting in the kitchen.
Stems and stalks make tasty additions to sautés and baked dishes, while garlic and onion ends can bring flavor to stocks and sauces.
5. Donate the extra food to Needy
If you have food stock-piled and are not sure if you are going to use it or throw it away, please donate it to the needy people. Instead of keeping it piled up in refrigerators and thrown away after some time, make someone’s day by donating some food to those in need.
6. Spread Awareness
Promote the importance of reducing food waste to your friends, family and neighbors to encourage them to reduce their food waste footprint too.
7. Compost If You Can
Composting leftover food is a beneficial way to reuse food scraps, turning food waste into energy for plants.
While not everyone has room for an outdoor composting system, there’s a wide range of countertop composting systems that make this practice easy and accessible for everyone, even those with limited space.
An outdoor composter may work well for someone with a large garden, while a countertop composter is best for city dwellers with houseplants or small herb gardens.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then putting it in the landfill).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
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