My personal journey with food waste started October 2011, although I didn’t realize that it would have a personal impact at the time. It all started with what I learned. Dr.Ralph Martin, Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production, University of Guelph, delivered a keynote speech about how we are going to feed ourselves in the future. Amongst the insights, Dr. Martin provided compelling evidence that we/Canadians are throwing out 40% of all the food we produce. Every year $27, 7 billion worth of edible food is wasted. And more bad news – we householders are responsible for 51% of it! That’s 183 kg per person!
Well, not me, thought I! Sure we pretty much fill our green bin each week but it’s with the inedible stuff. We don’t waste good food at our house. l can’t – it’s bred in my bones not to waste. My mother trained me to be frugal. What’s more, I’m informed given my professional work as a market researcher in solid waste diversion and in rebuilding our local food system. I know how to shop and prize local and organic food. And, I know how to cook – in our house we place high priority on cooking and sharing great food. We must be among the minority, I imagined, who simply don’t waste food that can be safely eaten. I was in a state of denial.
Then I decided to put my green bin waste on trial – what are we filling it with? Understand this was a theoretical exercise only…but the closer I looked, the more I saw. Did we overbuy? Did potentially tasty leftovers get ‘lost’ in the fridge? (I have long preferred smaller fridges, not the humungous monsters that are common.) Did we get tired of eating that big pot of – you fill in the blank? Guilty on all three counts. As the old saying goes, “l looked at the problem and the problem was me.”
Suffice to say we now shop more carefully with an eye to our schedules and a more realistic estimation of our needs. We make an effort to use everything that’s eatable. That means freezing, dehydrating or and canning more things. We make more stocks, soups and stew with wilted produce and leftovers. We’re learning to reduce our food waste ‘footprint’. It’s a continual work in progress and – it can be fun! Now I hope that I am better aligning my practice with my principles. Try it yourself. See how you fare and save money too – up to $28 per household each week. That’s the guestimated value of food that the average Canadian household of 2.1 members wastes on throwing out perfectly edible food each week. Time to put your practices under the microscope?