Ready to fight food waste?
Did you plant tomatoes and watch them turn red over the sunny summer days? Did you harvest a pumpkin, which you planted as a little seed in the soil? If you did, I do not have to explain the proud feeling after you harvest your own fruit and vegetables.
Food tastes so much better when you know how much effort it took to grow it. Small bumps or stains are completely irrelevant. You would never throw away a crooked cucumber!
But would a common consumer buy it? According to the retail markets, consumers want perfect, spotless and preferably cheap products. I am not so sure… However, the appreciation for our food is without a doubt lower if we buy it in the supermarket.
The connection between us and our food got somehow lost between the field and the plate.
One-third of the global food production is wasted along the value chain from producer to consumer.
This means one-third of our produced food is for nothing, not eaten by anybody! A big part of the wasted, still edible food is lost at the retail and consumer level – by you and me. A quarter of the food we buy ends up in the waste bin.
Food needs resources to grow, it has to be transported and processed. If we buy it just to throw them away, we not only throw away our own money but also all the resources. In Austria, the average person throws away 300-400€ per year. This is the equivalent of almost 100 kg edible food in the trash bin.
How much do you weigh compared to your food waste?
The retail sector reacts slowly. The whole system (from product placement to advertisement and special offers) is aiming indirectly to encourage the consumers to waste food and buy more. In France, supermarkets are now legally bound to donate unsold food products.
How did that happen? People like you and me stood up! Regular consumers, who did not want to pass on their responsibility.
first #zerowaste grocery haul after being away for most of the summer 😊 feels good to know i can get my food organic, mostly regional, package-free and from a local business @der_greissler 💚 i can’t remember where, but someone put up a picture of their food shaped like a heart to raise awareness for the value and love of food – i totally support that!! so here is my heart of the day 😋 #fightfoodwaste 💪 on a side note, i took this photo standing on a chair outside on my terrace with the food on the table – while my neighbours where watching 🙈😂 #thatecogirl you gotta stand up for your beliefs 😉 #standup #zerowastelifestyle #groceryhaul #supportyourlocalbusiness #gogreen #organic #seasonal #regional #intentionalliving #fortheloveoffood
Want to help reduce food waste? Here are simple ideas you can start implementing right away:
avoid food waste.
check your kitchen and write a shopping list.
The easiest way to avoid food waste is to eat everything before it goes bad. Stating the obvious.
check your cupboards: What is in my fridge? What do I have to use up? What do I really need to cook? Can I get creative with what I have without buying anything new?
write a shopping list: start a list where you add items that you used up (old-fashioned on a piece of paper, just put it on your kitchen counter or fridge, or extremely modern with an app, e.g. Wunderlist). You always know what you need and can avoid spontaneous emergency trips to the supermarket (read: hungry and „nothing“ at home).
buy less and directly from the producers.
Supermarkets attract people with seemingly cheap offers in huge packaging. Ecological costs aside, the huge packaging have a real downside for smaller households: there are too big! Perishable goods can spoil before you can eat them.
You can prevent food waste if you:
- only buy the amount you need (if possible without packaging).
- buy directly from the farmer: you can circumvent the retailer and get fresher products (think about joining a food coop or shop at the farmer’s market).
- share your food with your family, colleagues or strangers in fairteiler).
Another option is to save still edible food once it is in the waste bin. You could climb in the bin yourself (aka dumpster diving) or you let other people do the work for you (so to speak) and buy at supermarkets that sell surplus food (SirPlus in Berlin or The Good Food in Köln).
use up impulse purchases or give them away.
The occasional impulse purchase can happen and it should be demonized unnecessarily. Once you went shopping hungry, another time you really wanted to try a new recipe (and you did not have a single ingredient at home). In any case, you suddenly store rare spices and half used items in your kitchen.
If you happen to experience brimming spontaneity in the kitchen:
- Try out new recipes with exactly these ingredients.
- Prepare larger batches and freeze the rest.
- Donate or gift unwanted food – other people might be really happy to use it up (foodsharing).
store food correctly.
Not all your food has to be stored in the fridge, not everything can be stored in bright daylight. Here is a guide for proper food storage.
- Before you throw away over-ripe fruit or stale bread, think of creative ways to process it.
- Over-ripe fruit is perfect for chutneys or jams – can be stored longer once it is preserved.
- Or do you prefer fermentation? You’ll find an extensive guide here.
- Not the eco-friendliest alternative, but you can always freeze food and use it up later or make sauces and casserole with it.
best-before date is not a dispose-immediately date.
If your food passes the best-before date, it is not immediately spoiled. The best-before date is an assurance of the producer that a certain product does not lose its quality before this date. As a consumer you can read it as a suggestion, but not as a rule.
- check before you eat: look, smell, taste – The best guarantee are your own senses. Mold? Out of the house. Smells weird? Toss it. Tastes strange? Do not eat it. Looks normal, smells good and tastes like always? Eat it!
- You can prolong the shelf life if you store food properly.
it was my turn to make lunch for all my co-workers again 😊 i made pumpkin lasagna and plum cake 💚 cooking with #regional groceries saves co2 emissions for the transport and because it is #seasonal it is cheaper as well 👌 i wanted to #reducefoodwaste and used up leftover lasagna sheets and milk past its best-before-date 💚 smell and taste expired food – more often than not it is still edible!! #zerowaste #zerowastetips #vegetarian #fightfoodwaste #greenliving #gogreen #pfandflasche
cook everything: root to leave.
I was not aware of how much of the vegetables ends I threw in the compost can actually be made into delicious meals.
- vegetable ends (onions, carrot peels, leek ends, etc.): freeze them and make soup once you have enough vegetable ends (one of many possibilities)
- stale bread: make it soft again in the oven with a pot of water, toast it, make croutons or bread crumbs
- carrot green: make pesto!
- chickpea water: aquafaba for mousse au chocolat
Head over to zero waste chef for many more awesome ideas!
Okay, if you know me, you might think that sounds extremely strange for someone who eats as much as I do. But yes, I mean it: eat less. Smaller portions do not only help to save money in your pocket and calories on your hips, but they also avoid excess food production and therefore food waste! Not to mention that if you stop eating once you are almost full, you might live a longer life.
Now I want to hear from you!How do you avoid food waste? What is missing on my list? Share your ideas here and let us make sure more people can implement them 🙂