There is simply no denying the fact that Canada is currently one of the world’s worst wasters of food. It’s estimated that $27 billion dollars worth of food ends up in landfills each year. Food waste is an enormous problem that costs us money, drives up food prices, depletes environmental resources like water and land, and is just downright unnecessary.
The good news is that we as individuals can implement small changes that make a big difference in the amount of food we throw away each year. Just pick and choose from our list of tips for reducing food waste below.
How To Cut Down On Food Waste
Here are some really easy and simple ways that you can help cut down on food waste. If everybody follows these tips, we can pretty much put an end to this problem altogether.
Plan Meals & Cook Responsibly – One of the best things you can do to cut down on food waste is to plan meals and cook responsibly.
Often, we will buy food with the intention of cooking it in the days to come, only to leave it sitting in the fridge, letting it rot and go bad. It’s an excellent habit to plan our meals and know when and what to cook. Also, we should avoid cooking more than we need to.
Buy Locally – The number one way to cut down on food waste is to buy locally. There is so much less food waste when you buy food that is not imported from halfway around the world. It is truly stunning to see the difference.
Not only will you cut down on food waste by buying locally, but you also have better knowledge of what you are eating, it is probably healthier, and you will be supporting your local economy and community as well.
Donate to food banks – There are food banks all over Canada. They can receive excess good food that might otherwise go to waste. Many of them have partnered with their local farmers, retailers, and restaurants to mitigate food waste.
Treat expiration dates as guidelines – Most people don’t know that “best before” dates are only a guide for food quality, not food safety, which can lead to unnecessary food waste. They’re usually manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality. If stored properly, most foods (even meat) stay fresh several days past the “use-by” date
Avoid clutter in your fridge, pantry, and freezer – If we forget something’s there until it’s no longer good to consume, that’s a huge waste. Keep things neat and visible, and use the “first in, first out” principle.
When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older food before it expires.
Keep track of what you throw away – Manage a waste log to keep an eye on what you’re throwing out, so you can prevent doing the same in the future.
Use helpful apps – There are many amazing apps that you can use on your smartphone that helps reducing food waste. Some apps such as Ubifood and Feedback helps you buy surplus food from groceries and restaurants at discounted prices. Others like Handpick helps you plan meals around ingredients you already have.
Eat leftovers – They can make an excellent free packed lunch for work or school. If you don’t want to eat leftovers the day after they’re cooked, freeze and save them for later. Try canning and pickling – Fresh produce tops the list of food waste items. Canning and pickling can be excellent solutions to help eliminate food waste.
Compost – As a last resort you can put your food waste in your compost pile. There is no reason that a country with so much food should have the issue of hunger as well. It is up to all of us to come up with solutions that both address food waste as well as increase the accessibility of fresh, nutritious food for all Canadians.