Canada is ranked among the worst globally in wasting edible food, says a new study that documents food waste and loss differences between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The study shows the sobering statistic that we waste over half of all edible food produced within our borders. Overproduction, market fluctuations, and damage in transportation and preparation play key roles in this largely preventable issue.
The problem is personal, too. Canadians are said to waste hundreds of dollars of edible food products each year.
“We waste more than we consume,” Lori Nikkel of Second Harvest, the Toronto-based group working to reduce food waste that commissioned the study, told The Canadian Press.
Food waste piles up in landfills where it decomposes and releases methane gas that directly contributes to climate change. It also contributes to the inefficient use of natural resources, economic loss, biodiversity loss, and public health issues.
The study authors share many ways Canada can reduce food waste in its food supply chain. It’s definitely worth checking out for a deeper understanding of how we can improve as a country, but what about in your own eco-den?
What you can do to reduce food waste
Shop smarter and smaller
Preventing food waste at home means having a plan when you go to the store. Try prepping at least a rough menu of what you’ll eat throughout the week, and avoid impulse buys. You can further limit waste by shopping for fresh foods in smaller quantities or splitting items with friends and family.
Watch your serving portions
If you’re anything like me, you might be over-serving because giving your family plentiful plates makes you feel like a good provider. But over-serving can easily turn into over-eating or scraping plates of perfectly fine food into the compost or trash because your loved ones just couldn’t fit in another bite.
Instead of over-serving, watch your portions and package up excess amounts for second-helpings and leftovers.
Do the leftover challenge
Eating leftovers seems like a great way to cut down on food waste and save time on meal prep, but for people who just let them sit in the fridge, it’s completely counterproductive.
If you don’t eat your leftovers within three days, let’s face it: You’re not going to. You let countless meals come in between you and those leftovers and it’s time to cut them loose.
If this sounds like you, start cooking in smaller portions and avoid tricking yourself into thinking you’ll actually eat last night’s dinner for tomorrow’s lunch. If you do cook too much one night, limit your snacks to those leftovers to ensure nothing is wasted.
Forget about best before dates
Best before dates are guidelines and should be treated as such. If you’re not sure if something is still edible, do a quick sniff test or look-over. Your senses will tell you when something’s gone sour or mouldy, trust me.
Psst… If you find yourself tossing food frequently because it’s gone bad, it’s time to consider whether or not you really need that product in your house. If the answer is yes, shop for smaller sizes to prevent waste.
Learn about proper fresh food storage
Oh, the things they don’t teach you in school…like that apples emit a gas that can make other produce rot at a faster rate or that cucumbers should be kept at room temperate to prevent spoiling.
Learning about proper fresh food storage is a quick way to cut down on food rot that leads to unnecessary waste. Check out this handy list from Heart and Stroke Foundation and consider making a copy to stick on your fridge.
Donate unused pantry items to food banks
We all go through food phases and sometimes this means we end up with pantry items we both know we’re never going to eat, but we keep looking at them anyway. These are the kind of items that take up valuable space and stare you in the face as you complain you’re completely out of food. They’re the ones that would be much better off with someone else than sitting and collecting dust.
Do some good and donate them.
Did I miss a great tip for reducing food waste? Let me know in the comments.