Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – How much food do you waste? January 23, 2013

EarthMattersTitle_01_23_13CFN – Have you really taken note of the food that is thrown in the garbage or compost pile each week?

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One of the things that I hate to waste is food.  According some information that I read recently, can’t remember the source exactly, North Americans throw out about 50% of the food that enters their households.  When I googled “wasted food by North Americans” I read through sources which stated anywhere from 14% to 50%, the following link says 40%. http://www.wastedfood.com/about/  Whatever the actual number is, I would imagine this changes from one household or establishment to another, it is quite disturbing on reflection of the number of working poor in our communities not to mention the many souls around the world that go to bed hungry.

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I don’t think anyone intentionally wishes this to happen however considering the fashion in which we acquire and store our food, it reflects where some of the stumbling blocks occur.  Firstly, based on my own personal experiences, many of us shop once a week.  This surely presents a challenge in that some of the produce purchased has the likelihood of spoiling before we get around to using it towards the end of the shopping week.  If we purchased our foods twice a week instead of one, this could eliminate part of the waste stream.  If we get enticed to purchase something that is not on our usual menu, we may find that it does not delight our taste buds, and is therefore immediately delegated to the trash. Sometimes items are purchased with the intention of a particular meal or occasion and are inadvertently forgotten about.  Soon this item is allocated to the trash or compost bin as it is past its expiration date.

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Have you ever saved leftovers or by-products of a meal thinking you would turn it into something else?  Life happens; the items get lost behind other items in the fridge and before you know it, your nose tells you something is past the edible stage or one day you happen upon the forgotten item to find it wearing a fuzzy green coat.

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How about that item which was purchased on special which gets transferred to the Freezer?  This extends the shelf life of these items if used within a specific length of time.  The following is a food storage guide http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/FreezerChart.htm  for fresh and frozen food items. You might be very surprised at the “best before” times given.

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So what food purchasing/handling ideas can we incorporate to waste less food?

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Shopping more often can eliminate waste as we are shopping for something that will be on the dinner menu this evening thereby using the food at the height of its freshness.  This is not always suitable for everyone’s routine and basically only works if you are passing or living close to the supplier of your food.

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Many fresh vegetables are good for consumption if consumed in 3 – 7days from date of purchase.  So if it’s on special, three for whatever, it’s not a bargain if you end up not consuming the product before the weeks end. Better to purchase one for $1.39 then purchasing three for $3.00 and tossing two onto the compost pile.

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Keeping a list of contents in the fridge and in your pantry can help you to not double purchase an item you already have and can help you to plan your menu for the week with items on hand.

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There are those who aren’t concerned with the food that they are tossing.  To you comes the great opportunity of lending a loving hand to those in need.  A little forethought will allow you to easily give hope and nourishment to a growing mind that may quite possibly be making decisions for your very own well being one day.  With a small amount of due diligence, each of us can help our community without increasing our budget.

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Your commentary is always appreciated and welcome below or to earthmatters@jmilner.com

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