Before You Compost…

By Alyssa Robinson

There are approximately 800 million people in the world who are undernourished. That equates to about one in nine people who go to bed on an empty stomach every night. Securing food to feed the 9 billion humans on this planet is arguably one of the biggest challenges posed to humankind. Given these jarring numbers, it is astounding to learn that there is actually enough food grown to feed 10 billion people, but over one third this food is wasted. That’s about 1.3 billion tons of potential sustenance per year which could feed malnourished people across the world.

There are systematic flaws in the production, transportation, and consumption of food from field to fork, but a large portion of the food waste calamity falls into the hands of consumers. Simply put, people are buying food, and then not eating it. The average Canadian consumer produces 170 kilograms of food waste, and along with it all the resources to grow, ship and produce this food. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, if food waste were a country, it would have the third-largest carbon footprint, after the U.S. and China, due to the resources used in producing, transporting and storing food that is never eaten, and the methane emissions created by food decomposing in landfills. Although composting is a better alternative to dumping unused food into the trash, it is a waste of not only the huge amounts of resources used to produce that food but also our own time and money. Luckily there are so many things that can easily be done to reduce food waste, and save money!

1. Only buy what is needed
Shop smart, and only buy what you actually need! If a recipe calls for 3 apples, don’t buy an entire bag of them. Shop in the loose produce section (and simultaneously reduce plastic waste wooo!!). Try to plan out what you need for the week, and avoid impulsive buys so you are less likely to buy food that you probably won’t consume.

2. Shop locally
Shopping local is a great strategy to sustainably consuming food. Food that is grown locally doesn’t travel as far, which not only reduces the resources put into transportation but actually can make your food last longer because the distance that your food travels before it reaches your plate is minimized. There are 2 markets in downtown Guelph: the year-round farmers market that is open every Saturday, and the Wednesday market in St. Georges Square that is open from April-August. There is also a market on campus: The Guelph Urban Organic Farm that is open on Thursdays in the summertime.

3. Store food properly
Not knowing how to properly store food can lead to premature food spoilage, which is a waste of money and resources. Check out these produce storage tips to make sure you are maximizing the freshness of your fruits and veggies. Another storage strategy is to keep all your older food at the front of your fridge so that it gets used before newer food and doesn’t get lost in the back of your fridge!

4. Use your freezer!
Utilizing freezer space is one of the easiest ways to preserve food, and there is an endless list of food that takes well to freezing. You can freeze anything from leftovers to excess produce that is about to spoil. Check out some freezer tips and tricks (including how to reduce plastic waste in your freezer!) here and here.

5. Get creative with food scraps
Throw some kale stalks, beet greens, or wilted spinach into your smoothie, or save your vegetable scraps for veggie broth….check out these creative ways to repurpose scraps in your kitchen:

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