Food waste is expensive – and not only dollars and cents. Food waste also has significant environmental and health implications.
Some estimates suggest that up to 50 per cent of food waste in Canada is generated at family level. So what does this mean for a single family?
To answer this question our team of researchers from the University of Guelph investigated household purchasing, consumption and waste habits with young children.
From each household, we collected household waste – including their recycling, garbage and organic – over a four week period.
We then separated and weighed each individual item. Food items were classified as avoidable (edible at some point) or unavoidable (consider banana peels and chicken bones).
Wasted health opportunity
The average family in our study generated approximately three kilograms (or almost six pounds) of avoidable food waste per week. Most of this waste is fruit and vegetables, followed by bread and cereals.
To understand the three kilograms of avoidable food waste that we protect, we examined the nutritional losses, the value of the tolls and the environmental impact expended.
In our studies, one week of avoidable food waste was represented:
3,366 calories. This daily caloric intake is recommended for 1.7 children or 2.2 adults. This amounts to five meals for adults, or seven meals for children per week.
$ 18.01. $ 18 a week in a family pocket could go far. More than one year, that is almost $ 1,000!
23.3 kilograms of CO2. This equates to 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – a quarter of a year 's car – driven emissions, or 2.8 barrels of oil consumed.
5,000 liters of water. Consider that the five-minute shower uses 35 liters of water. The equivalent of about 143 showers per week.
The misleading food represents significant losses of fiber, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin A – all the nutrients often consumed under the recommended intake levels. In this case, the fruit and vegetables that were wasted represented a significant loss of health.
While the statistics are of concern, the good news is that families can take simple steps to prevent food waste. Here are the top four tips for preventing household food waste: t
1. Plan your meals
Planning your meals is one of the most effective ways to prevent food waste. By keeping your family organized, you can help keep healthy eating habits and save money on groceries.
As a first step, keep a continuous list of the fridge. Write down items as you run out of them or when you are planning a meal.
Then, explore your fridge and your phantry and the bottom of your meals on foods that must be used first. Get spotty bananas? Plan to make banana bread, or wear and throw it in the freezer for use in busy morning breakfasts.
Finally, think about your schedule for the coming week. If it's like a busy week, it's ok to eat out. Just adjust your meal plan and buy less food. Remember, you do not have to plan every meal. Planning for four or five meals will allow for flexibility and unexpected balance.
2. Find the whole family involved
Involving the whole family is a great victory. Children learn essential food skills and are more likely to eat the meals you prepare as they have helped. When it comes to the meal itself, let your family members serve themselves, so that everyone gets the parts they want.
However, it may be difficult to plan for pickling cutlery. Research shows that it can be between 10 and 15 exposure to a child to accept new foods. So start with small parts and give more when your child is interested. And be creative with those parts that don't touch them! Remaining veggies can be used in frying and pure can be frozen and add to the pasta sauce or soup. Fruit can be saved for tomorrow's snacks or can be frozen for smoothies.
3. Keep your food last
How we store our food can have a huge impact on how long it will last. It is important to ensure that your fridge is set between 0-4C to ensure that your food has a very good freshness. Keep milk and other dairy products out of the door where the temperature is warmer.
Did you know that the adjustable levers on the drawers produced in your fridge vary the moisture levels? If your fridge has these levers, set one high and one low. The high moisture drawer prevents the air coming in and is the best place for veggies that are similar to green, leafy carrots and peppers. The low humidity drawer is a great house for fruits and vegetables such as apples, mushrooms, oranges and grapes.
4. Rock the food you got
Our staff have created a free cookery book to make the most of the food you buy. With busy families, the recipes are not only tasty in our cookery book but are also easy to prepare.
Our cooking book makes preparing an easy meal with recipes that make two meals at once. These guides are flexible by offering plenty of ingredients options to help you utilize the foods you already have.
Finally, many of the recipes use full ingredients, from top to bottom, so half a leek will not leave you to get the way to the compost in the end.
Kathryn Walton, Registered Dietitian, Research Fellow, University of Guelph and Molly Gallant, Research Associate, University of Guelph
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.