Food for Thought Blog

Reducing Food Waste

January 14th, 2022Awareness, Food

The state of food waste in Canada has reached startling new heights. Sixty-three per cent of food thrown away by Canadians could have been eaten, according to research done by the National Zero Waste Council1. This amounts to 2.2 million tonnes of edible food waste annually in Canada, costing the average Canadian household more than $1,100 each year1. However, with just a few easy strategies, you can reduce food waste, put money back in your pocket, and better the environment.

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

  1. Plan Your Meals

Having a plan for how you are going to use food during the week is the easiest way to prevent food from ending up in the trash. Try setting aside time to plan your meals for the week and making a shopping list to take with you to the store. This can help you only purchase what you know you can use within a week. Don’t forget to check your fridge and pantry to see if there are any items close to spoiling that you can incorporate into a meal or use up before buying more.

  1. Take Advantage of Your Freezer

About 45 per cent of the food wasted by Canadians is fruits and vegetables, followed by 13% leftovers, 9% bread and bakery items, and 7% dairy and eggs1. However, most of this food can be saved by simply freezing it. Here are some ideas to get you started.

    1. Try freezing berries or bananas that are close to going mushy and using them in a smoothie.
    2. Dice up extra vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and squash and freeze for an easy addition to a casserole or soup.
    3. Store your bread products in the freezer and thaw slices as needed.
    4. Freeze a sleeve of milk if you don’t think you can drink all 3 bags before they go sour.
    5. Freeze leftovers or repurpose them into another meal or a quick lunch.
  1. Best Before Dates vs. Expiry Dates

The misconception between best before and expiry dates often leads to food that is safe to eat being thrown out. A best before date indicates freshness and how long a food will keep its flavour and nutritional value. You can still eat food if the best before date has passed. However, an expiration date is the last day a product is safe to consume. Never eat food past its expiry date.

Food Waste at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Food recovery is a top priority at The Food Bank. In 2019, we furthered our commitment to food recovery by launching Saving Fresh. Feeding Community., our food recovery program. As part of this program, we work with corporate, community, and food industry partners (distributors, retailers, restaurants) to prevent edible, healthy food from being discarded and instead redirected to help the 34,620 people in our community struggling to put food on the table. This program also significantly reduces food waste in our community. One key aspect of this program is our Fresh Approaches Food Centre. This space allows staff and volunteers to safely process and re-package fresh food donations, extending their shelf life and freshness. To date over 200,000 pounds of food, that otherwise may have gone to waste, have been processed in the room. Some food items processed include flour, dry beans, squash, chicken legs, bananas, ground pork, frozen shrimp, salmon, eggs, coffee, rice, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, green beans, and zucchini.

If you are a local food industry partner, retailer, distributor or restaurant and interested in learning more about our Saving Fresh. Feeding Community program, visit: thefoodbank.ca/foodrecovery/ 
Looking to volunteer in our Fresh Approaches Food Centre? Visit thefoodbank.ca/volunteer to sign up!

 

References

  1. National Zero Waste Council (2017). Food Waste in the Home. Love Food Hate Waste. Retrieved from https://lovefoodhatewaste.ca/about/food-waste/