Waste Not, Want Not: Food wastage in Australia February 15, 2018
How much food wastage is there in this lucky country of ours? We crunched the numbers and it’s not pretty. Luckily, there are some simple ways to combat waste that all of us can do to make a difference.
Australians waste 4 million tonnes of food each year!!! This is enough to fill 8,400 Olympic sized swimming pools. This is a massive environmental, social and economic problem which really can’t be underestimated.
There’s no denying that we are all guilty of the rotten piece of fruit at the bottom of the refrigerator, the leftovers you forgot about, and the yoghurt which you bought but never got around to eating. If it’s happening in your home, your neighbours are most likely to be doing it too. This is a big problem in Australia and globally.
Why is it such a problem?
Because everybody is doing it! Every household, cafe, restaurant, supermarket, transporter, grower, manufacturer… Everyone from the paddock to the plate (if it eventually makes it there!!)
The food that gets disposed of ends up in landfill, where it decomposes and produces huge amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Not only this, but we must also consider the thousands and thousands of litres of water and energy used in producing, processing, storing, refrigerating, transporting and cooking the food.
So what can you do about it?
Fortunately, lots of things! The first thing you can do is read on and learn some simple steps to reducing your food waste at home…
Much of the food waste at home is a result of simply buying too much or poor planning. Before shopping, think about what you’ll need for the week ahead factoring in nights you might be out, who else is home and how likely you are to cook. Have a look in the fridge before you head out to see what you already have and what needs to be used up!
Even better, write a shopping list. This will help you to avoid buying things unnecessarily and being tempted by your rumbling stomach!
STORE IT RIGHT
Correctly storing your food has a huge impact on its freshness and shelf-life. Keep a range of airtight containers for storing various foods once they have been opened or cooked. Also take note of the different compartments in your fridge – some are specifically designed for particular foods, i.e. the crisper drawer – designed to keep your fruit and veggies fresher for longer!
Everything from soup to fruit to leftover pasta can be frozen and used up later. If you cook in bulk, freeze portions individually. If you have fruit that’s about to go off, dice it and freeze it to add to smoothies. Some meats can also be frozen for up to 12 months.
Leftover herbs? Try freezing them in water or oil and then thawing out later for use in soups, stews, or pesto!
USE BY/BEST BEFORE
There is a difference! Where you see a ‘use-by’ date on a food, it should be eaten by this date to avoid any nasties. On the other hand, foods marked with a ‘best-before’ date are typically still safe to eat after that date – it’s best to have a sniff and make a call depending.
Get inventive with your leftovers and put even small amounts in the fridge or freezer for a handy lunch or snack. Try and use up some commonly wasted foods – for example, stale bread can be turned into bread crumbs, croutons, stuffing or even a bread and butter pudding!
One of favourite uses for that leftover half an onion is a caramelised relish perfect on burgers, with cheese, or just a really good toasted cheese sandwich.
Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s easy to grow a few fresh herbs in a pot on your balcony or window sill so they’re always on hand. Instead of buying costly bunches of herbs at the supermarket, you can snip off just what you need, as you need them.