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Published on Thursday, March 14, 2024

Fighting Food Waste

We all have a role to play in limiting food waste.

 

By Laura Needham,

Public Health Dietitian

 

How often do you toss wilted vegetables, sketchy leftovers, or edible scraps in the trash?

Throwing away food may seem like a small thing, but food loss and waste is a big issue in Canada – one requiring the attention of consumers, businesses, and governments.

A 2021 report estimates that 58% of all food in Canada is being lost or wasted. That equates to about 35.5 million tonnes every year – of this $49.46 billion worth is rescuable.

Every year, each Canadian household throws away an average of $1,766 in food that could have been eaten.

Food in our landfills is costly for us and the environment. When food is thrown away, the resources used to produce, transport, and prepare it are also wasted; everything from water and dedicated land to fuel and human resources.

As food decomposes in a landfill, it produces greenhouse gases, including methane, which has 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over 20 years.

We all have a role to play in limiting our waste.

We must avoid a two-tiered food system that demands food charity and food insecure households to absorb our waste. Efforts to reduce food loss and waste require changes to how we think about and use our food - on both the individual and industry levels. At each step of the food supply chain – from production to consumption – there are opportunities to avoid or recover food loss and waste.

 

What can we do at home?

Buying only the food you need is the first step to reducing food waste.

  • Make a meal plan and shopping list before going to the grocery store. Include leftovers in your plans for meals the next day.
  • Use the trimmings and scraps of the foods you prepare to make broths or sauces.
  • Compost food materials that cannot be used.
  • Stock up on foods that will last, like inexpensive and easily stored legumes (dried or canned beans, peas, lentils, or chickpeas).
  • Think F.I.F.O. when storing your food – First In, First Out – bring older items forward so you won’t forget them in the back corner of your pantry or freezer.
  • Remember that Best Before Dates are set by manufacturers; they estimate when food will be at peak quality for taste, nutrition, or quality not when they are safe to eat.
  • For more tips, visit LoveFoodHateWaste.ca

 

What can we do together?

The best solutions seek to avoid food loss and waste in the first place.

  • Do what you can to support food businesses that are working to reduce their waste. They may stock less-than-perfect-looking food, or find uses for food bi-products, like new food products or textiles.
  • We can all take part in recovering edible food by sharing recipes, hosting dinner parties or potlucks that prioritize leftovers, and sharing what we know when we talk about food with family and friends.
  • Talk to your municipality about green bin or composting programs that help to pull food and other organic waste from general waste collection and landfills.
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Categories: Your Health, Eating Well

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