Food wastage is more prevalent than you think, and it is time you start implementing its prevention. Read on for some practical tips to save your money.
Food wastage around the world is more serious than you might think, and it is past the point of the average consumer to change this. In fact, more than 30% of food produced globally gets spoiled or wasted. It gets even more serious in America – nearly 40% of the food Americans buy is thrown away, and the rising cases of methane emission is due to organic matter within landfills – up to 20% of methane emission globally. Methane is a leading contributor to climate change, just like other greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide.
Making this phenomenon more strange is that not everyone has access to food anyway. In 2013, close to 50 million Americans did not have enough access to nutritious and safe food.
Unsurprisingly, industrialized countries are the worst offenders when it comes to food wastage compared to developing countries. In fact, the average American is estimated to generate about 99kg of food waste according to the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency.
Here are some tips to help in reducing this harmful practice, and teach you to save every small bit you can.
Many people have a problem of buying more than they need, and it is a common problem. Even though bulk purchases are convenient, this shopping method tends to lead to higher chances of wastage of food. Purchasing recipe meal kits and using the right kind of spice from Spice N Tice also helps a lot in stopping food waste.
To stop the cycle of purchasing more quantities than you need, go for frequent trips to the store every few days instead of bulk shopping trips. Before you go to the grocery store again, make a point of using up all the food you bought during your last trip.
Another tip is making a list whenever you go out shopping. This will reduce the chances of buying items on impulse, encourages you to have the discipline of sticking to your needs, and reduces the chances of food waste.
Store your food properly
A major cause of food wastage is improper storage of food, which leads to food spoilage. In the UK for instance, a major cause of household waste is food spoilage that contributes to two-thirds of total wastage.
When you do not store your food correctly, it will lead to food spoiling and rotten produce. For instance, you should never put these food items in your refrigerator – bananas, potatoes, onions, garlic and cucumbers. They should stay at room temperature.
Foods that produce ethylene gas also tend to spoil faster because of ripening quickly, so you should separate those that do from those that do not. These include avocados, bananas, peaches, tomatoes, pears, cantaloupes and green onions. Make sure to keep them away from non-ethylene foods such as apples, leafy greens, potatoes, green peppers and berries to stop any premature spoilage from happening.
Use preservation techniques to help your food last
Preservation of food is not a new technology – different methods have been used for thousands of years to preserve different foods.
For instance, the use of vinegar or brine (concentrated salt solution) has been in use since about 2400 BC. Other methods you can use include curing, drying, fermenting, canning and freezing – all will help your food last longer.
These methods also reduce your carbon footprint and save you money since they are simple to use.
Sometimes perfectionism does not help in preventing food waste. Rummaging through a stack of apples until you find the one that looks the best is contributing more than you think.
The so-called ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables that you glaze over are more identical to the ‘perfect’ ones in both nutritional content and taste. Grocery stores and supermarkets will end up buying the most perfect-looking produce from farmers because that is what they see consumers want. That leads to good food going to waste.
Avoid this by picking even the produce that does not look perfect in your eyes, or buy directly from a farmer if you can access one.
Avoid cluttering your refrigerator
While having your refrigerator full of food can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing as well when it involves wastage of food. Avoid this problem by keeping the fridge compartments organized so that you can use foods in the order that they were purchased.
A good idea of doing this is using the ‘First In, First Out’ principle (FIFO). for instance, when purchasing new packets of milk, stock them in a way that the newer packets are behind the older packets. This will ensure you use the older food first, rather than letting it go to waste.
Use any leftovers you have
Holidays are not the only time leftovers exist. Many people tend to forget them in the fridge on other occasions or days, then they will throw it away when it becomes rotten or spoilt.
Use clear containers or glass containers when storing your foods instead of opaque containers, and this will remind you not to forget the food. In case you cook a high quantity of food regularly during the week, designate a day where you will only use the leftovers. That will ensure that you do not throw away your food.
Consume the skin of certain foods
Many people will remove and throw away the skins of certain vegetables, fruits and chicken as they make their meals. This is not helpful to reducing food wastage, because these skins contain numerous nutrients. For instance, the skin of apples has various antioxidants, minerals, fiber and vitamins.
In fact, research has found that apple peelings contain triterpenoids, a group of compounds that prevent cancer from developing in the body. The skin of chicken also contains certain vitamins, including the B Vitamins, healthy fats and proteins. Other foods include carrots, potatoes, eggplants, mangoes and tomatoes. Eating the skin reduces food wastage and is more economical in terms of food use.
Endless methods exist to reduce food wastage, and these practical tips (as well as others) can assist in that mission as well. By doing them, you are helping to save the earth’s resources, as well as creating positive changes to the story of food consumption.