Author: Sophie Van de Werve and Robyn Keet
Each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste. This equates to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of lost food, while at the same 815 million people experience food insecurity. These shocking figures, however, are only one part of the story. Not only does the food wastage problem impact our society and the economy, it also has a significant detrimental impact on the environment, accounting for 8-10% of the greenhouse gas emissions during the period 2010-2016. Did you know that food waste forms 21% of all waste going to landfills, making it the largest contributor? If this isn’t enough to make you shudder, in 2016 the United States spent 1.3% of GDP growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that was never eaten…
These figures are indeed worrying, but they present an opportunity to change the status quo. The fact that more than half of all food waste occurs in the home means we are at liberty to make a change. As Nobel Peace Prize-laureate Dr Wangari Maathai eloquently explains in the Hummingbird Story, every individual can make a difference and be a force for inspiration to others. One by one, our small changes will compound, leading to big results. To kickstart your journey towards a food-waste-free life, below are some tips and tricks that have been tried and tested by the Wolves.
1. Easy as one, two, freeze
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to keep your food away from the bin. It is safe to freeze food up until the use-by date, therefore pressing pause on the expiration until you are ready to enjoy. It is important to remember that food should only be kept in the freezer for six to nine months maximum, so a good trick is to label foods with the freeze date.
Did you cook a delicious meal in bulk which you would like to freeze, or buy a large pack of meat from the local farmer? It is good practice to freeze in portion sizes to avoid defrosting bulk quantities, which may result in the very waste we are trying to avoid!
During the Food Waste Challenge, the Wolves froze more than 10 meals in portion size. A great way to prolong the pleasure of eating delicious home-made food.
2. Eat me first!
Incorporating an “Eat Me First” section into your fridge can eliminate the tendency for that sneaky punnet of mushrooms or half-used bottle of cream to become hidden in the back of the fridge, not to be seen until it begins growing legs… By having a dedicated shelf to place all food nearing its use-by date, we are reminded to incorporate it into our meals or rustle up an innovative meal.
In our homes, around 15 Wolves’ fridges have witnessed an important reorganization for the delight of all those forgotten foods.
3. Perfectly imperfect
Fruits and vegetables account for 52% of all food wastage, with the sole reason often being of cosmetic imperfections. Translating this into natural resources, we see a significant environmental impact. For example, if just 5% of broccoli production in California is not harvested, it would translate to 1.6 billion gallons of water and 450,000 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer (a contributor to global warming), which essentially represents a wasted use of these resources and unnecessary emissions. In our search for the perfectly red tomato, the imperfection-free apple, and the optimally sized carrot, we too become the culprits of this waste. Did you know that 10% of all fruits and vegetables do not even leave the farm because of cosmetic imperfections that do not fit supermarket standards? The look and size usually have no influence on the taste of the produce, so why not choose the perfectly imperfect produce next time you are in the store?
At BrightWolves, we are all for celebrating uniqueness. The Wolves can testify that choosing imperfect produce still makes for an incredibly tasty meal!
4. (Meat) me in the middle
Not all waste is equal, with waste from meat products proving particularly detrimental to the environment. Each kilogram of meat requires between 5,000 – 20,000 liters of water, while a kilogram of rice requires less than 3,000 liters