Today is World Environment Day and the theme for 2013 is Think.Eat.Save.
Food waste is a huge problem for our planet. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on the one hand every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted while on the other hand 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.
Food production puts a monumental strain on natural resources so as food gets wasted so is everything else that went into its production. The FAO remind us that it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger.
The global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change (Source: FAO).
We all have our part to play and by making sure we do not waste food we can help preserve the environment.
Here are 12 easy ways to reducing food waste:
- Get Planning: Before you go shopping plan your weekly meals and only buy what you need.
- Have A Leftover Dinner: This is a big favourite in our house. One night a week, reheat all the leftovers you have in the fridge and have dinner ready under 10 mins.
- Spin Off Meat Leftovers: roasted dinners always leave some bit and pieces of meat. Don’t throw them away. Add them to a pie, risotto, pasta or soup. Roasted chicken carcase and bits make a delicious soup.
- Get Creative With Overripe Fruit: don’t fancy a brown and soft banana? Make banana bread or ice cream with it! Most overripe fruits are still good to eat. Bake muffins, fruity breads, jam, ice creams, smoothies etc..
- Keep Organised: did you know that as some fruits and vegetables ripen, they emit ethylene gas? Some varieties of fruits and vegetables are ethylene- emitting while others are ethylene-sensitive (i.e: they will ripen faster if placed near ethylene-emitting produce).To preserve your fruits and vegetables for longer keep the two kinds away from each other.
Ethylene-sensitive include: cabbage, carrots, lettuce, various greens, watermelons, kiwifruit.
Ethylene- emitting include: apples, avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, and tomatoes.
- Expiry Dates: food can often be eaten after its expiry date. Unless it has big mouldy green patches on, take a “smell test” or a “small taste test”. If it is bad you’ll know it.
- Test Your Eggs: even if they are past their “Best Before” date eggs can still be good to use. A simple test is to take a jug of water and carefully drop the egg in it. If it is good it will sink and if it is bad it will float (as an egg gets older, gases build up inside the shell affecting its buoyancy).
- Freeze It: don’t let it go to waste. Most food can be frozen (unless it has been frozen before). Make sure you put dates on food you are freezing so you can keep track. Click here to find out more about frozen food storage advice.
- Rotate Food: How many times have you found rotten food at the bottom of the fridge, in a fruit bowl or back of a cupboard? When you get your weekly shopping in, simply put the food that is already there in front of what you just bought.
- Size it up: serve and prepare appropriate portions. Anyone who is still hungry can come back for seconds. You can store or freeze up any leftovers.
- Cook it Tonight: check out your supermarket “reduced price” sections. Most food there is nearing its sell-by date but is still good to use. You can prepare your next meal for a fraction of the price and help reduce waste.
- Get The App: The all new Love Food Hate Waste App has arrived on iphone and android and allows you to easily keep track of food planning, shopping, cooking meals and making the most of leftovers. The App also has lots of great recipe ideas and tips for using forgotten foods and leftovers to make great tasting meals.
Do you have any other tips to reduce food waste?
Annabelle Randles writes The Flexitarian, a blog dedicated to eating less meat. Visit The Flexitarian if you are interested in Food, Health, Ethics and the Environment.