Top 10 Tips on Getting to Grips with Food Wastage
Time to get a grip and realize that we do not need toxic GM foods to solve any food shortage. We just need to drastically cut down on the waste of the food we already have.
Examples of wasted food
In the UK, households throw away at least 25% of all the food they buy – roughly the equivalent of 6 meals per week.
In the US, 40% of all food is wasted, amounting to $165 billion a year in waste, taking a toll on the country’s water resources and significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council released this week, more than 20 pounds of food is wasted each month for each of 311 million Americans, amounting to $1,350 to $2,275 annually in waste for a family of four.
And yet there is food poverty in both the UK and the USA. “American families throw out approximately 25% of the food and beverages they buy partly from impulse buys, partly from poor storage and partly from who knows why.
Food is simply too good to waste.
What can you do in your own home to help prevent food wastage?
For a start here are 10 tips on storage after you have done your weekly shopping trip
1. Perhaps obvious to many, but still forgotten, is to eat the more perishable items first. For example eat those fruits that ripen faster before those that take longer to ripen and last longer anyway.
2. Never refrigerate tomatoes, winter squashes, onions, garlic and potatoes. I keep my tomatoes out on the counter top in their own bowl but the rest of this list of produce keeps better in a cool dark place. You can pop tomatoes in the fridge if they have been cut up ready to use later.
3. Keep high ethylene-gas emitting produce such as bananas (ripe), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce and other leafy greens, parsley, peas, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and watermelon away from that produce that are ethylene-sensitive. For example: apples, nectarines, apricots, papayas, avocados, passion fruit, cantaloupe, peaches and pears. If they are in the refrigerator, the two groups should have separate containers.
4. Mushrooms should be eaten as soon as possible but if refrigerated, keep them in a brown paper bag. Never ever wash your mushrooms for any reason – water spoils their flavor.
5. Fresh herbs do well when you store them in water. Use mason jars, and fill them with a little bit of water. I always have a jug of fresh herbs (such as parsley) picked from the garden on my kitchen table. The big advantage is that you remember to use them more frequently!
6. Melons should not be refrigerated until fully ripe. The exception is watermelon which seems to improve in taste when refrigerated.
7. Take fruit and veggies out of their original packaging before refrigerating. I tend to line my veggie containers with kitchen paper towel and place them on there. If anything is going to be left in for more than a couple of days, use perforated plastic bags to allow for air circulation (this also prevents drying out of produce) and you can pop in a piece of damp paper towel too.
8. For cruciferous greens like kale, chard, and collards, remove the tough stems and cut the leaves into ribbons. Again store them in a perforated plastic bag with damp paper towel to keep them fresh or store in little water containers to keep the leaves crisp and prevent wilting. To prevent root vegetables from wilting, cut off their tops before refrigerating especially carrots and parsnips.
9. Bread is the most likely item to be thrown away. If you buy too much bread, take half of it and wrap and freeze for another day. It freezes very successfully and if you take it out again on the day you need it, leave it to thaw at room temperature, you will find it to be as good as ever.
10. Meat and other items can easily be frozen even if they reach their use by date. They do NOT have to be frozen on their day of purchase. Make a habit of checking through your refrigerator every few days and popping those items into the freezer that are nearing their use by date. Keep a black marker handy for writing on the name of the item and when you freeze it. While on the subject of freezing, keep some plastic clothes pins or pegs in the freezer so you can easily seal up that open packet of peas or fish fingers before it gets the chance to suffer from freezer burn.
Hope this helps you to cut down on your own family’s waste so that along with a culture of recycling, you can reduce your trash can contents to the absolute minimum and reverse the shocking waste of food.