But there's so much waste! How can I make a difference?
Yes, we know. There is a LOT of waste. Have a look below to discover how you can make a difference. You may not be able to fix the problem on your own, but if you do your part, and encourage those around you to do the same, then we will be on the right path.
The effects of food waste are numerous, and so are the causes. Is it the softish tomato that you don't choose from the supermarket even though you're making a sauce anyways? And what happens with the bag of 6 avocado's that are all the same ripeness? What do you do? eat them all in one day or put half in the fridge or make a big smoothie or guacamole? And what happens to the tops of the celery and also why are all the fruits always the same ripeness and the same size?
These are just a few minor examples. The reality is, the closer you look, and the more you think about where you're food comes from, the easier it will be for you to understand how we waste almost half of the food we produce. We've lost almost all the traditional steps that we've gone through in the past to get from planting and harvesting food, to eating it. The loss of these steps in our day to day routine has rendered the majority of the population blind to the path that our food travels upon, and by consequence, we've lost sight of what happens to it along the way.
What we can't forget is that we can ALL make a difference because we ALL eat at least three times a day. Through our daily habits, we are either knowingly or unknowingly contributing to either the creation or reduction of food waste. If we start paying attention to our consumption habits, we can then begin practicing more intelligent habits, so that we can begin to integrate these habits into our own lives and into the lives of our families to ensure that we are contributing to the latter.
In the meantime however, have a look below for some tips on where to get started.
When grocery shopping, take a few minutes to write out or think about a week’s worth of dinners when you go grocery shopping. Start with what’s already on hand, and think about how those ingredients can be worked into what you plan on making in the coming week. Think about how leftovers can play into lunches, snacks or other meals. Create a grocery list based on your plan and try not to deviate too much from the list. Deviations from your list could be due to certain products that are on sale because they are approaching the end of their consumable life. Try to integrate or replace these ingredients into your existing list, that way you can save some money, and often get a products that is at the peak of its ripeness! After doing this a few times, you will notice that you may not even need to make a list anymore, and that just thinking about it while your driving back from work will be enough time.
As often as possible, try to go with someone else to do your shopping. You can bounce ideas off of each other and keep each other from going overboard in your purchases. Bringing your kids is also great (for them). They may be a handful to deal with, but they need SOME connection with where their food comes from, if we are going to be successful in building up the value that they place on food when they get older in order to ensure that they waste less.
Studies show that we waste about a third of the food we buy. Try to identify this third BEFORE buying it! The more conscious you are about it, the less you will waste.
Lastly, please please please try to have a little bit of fun. I know that grocery shopping may sometimes be a chore, but it's all about perspective. If you try to enjoy yourself when shopping and cooking, it can transform these shores into relaxing forms of self expression and creativity.
Eat-Me-First Bin for Your Fridge
Try the following trick for managing your fridge during your weekly routine.
- Repurpose a plastic bin or basket
- Label it: “Eat-me-first”
- Add older produce and foods approaching their “best before” dates
- Get creative with these items, or try to incorporate them into your cooking through existing recipes or plans
By keeping track of the produce in your fridge, you are less likely to end up throwing out food which could have been used. You are also more likely to find a way to use it up, freeze it, pickle, or preserve it in some other fashion before it's too late. This is also an opportunity to develop your cooking skills by incorporating older ingredients into your cooking plan. You'll be saving food and money through this simple activity.
If you're wondering how to know when something has gone bad, I have the easiest solution.
But first, you should know that the only food products that must have an expiry date by law is baby formula. All other expiry dates are either approximations or completely made up. Companies LOVE food waste at home because that means that you will go back to buy more of their product. They also sometimes put "best before" dates to either confuse people so that they will throw away the product just to be safe, or to ensure that the product is at it's absolute optimal flavour and texture at the time of its consumption. It does NOT mean that it has gone bad. Lastly, many companies will put the date of production or date of distribution, which also helps to confuse people about when the food is no longer good.
The solution to knowing when a food is not good anymore is to just use your senses. If you can see mold, hear gas forming in the container, smell something off, taste a sourness that does not belong, ect... Then it may not be good anymore! Humans have been evolving for more the 300,000 years. Throughout this time we have evolved the ability to tell whether we should eat something or not. We don't need anything more than that.
Learn to Love Cooking
"Just look at the world’s great food cultures which were built on resourcefulness—an imperative to utilize every part of every ingredient, in the field and in the kitchen. Embracing those food traditions is hopefully another way to find new applications in the everyday." Dan Barber, New York restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Ultimately food is wasted because we don't value it enough to not waste it. We've become so disconnected from the sourcing of our food that the value we individually place on the end product that we buy is much too low. For this reason, it is much too easy for us to convince ourselves that throwing away food is okay.
By developing our cooking skills, we will begin to build up the value that we individually place on food because as we cook, we build up our intimacy with our food.
In addition, on the practical side of things, by learning how to cook we equip ourselves with more tools that we can use to be innovative in our approach to using up ingredients that we may think there is nothing to do with. If you're interested in learning cooking tips by volunteering with us, send us a message and ask about joining us when we lead transformation workshops at local community centres.
Make a Food Waste Facebook Group
You may think that this solution is silly, but it is probably one of the best way's to reduce food waste at home. You will be surprised of the outcome after applying these simple steps for even just a month!
1. Create a Facebook group with several friends who want to be conscious of the amount of food they are throwing away.
2. Every time you are about to throw out a food product, you must snap a quick picture of it first and post it to the group.
By monitoring your food waste between friends it is easier to take consciousness of the food that is thrown away. By contextualizing the waste in a meaningful way we can begin to take steps to reducing our waste and finding creative ways to make a change for the better. Make a Facebook group today and start snapping some pictures... but hopefully not too many!
Volunteer, Donate or Become a Member
By getting involved with your local food bank, community organization, or collective kitchen, you can help reduce food waste by learning and sharing new cooking experiences. Often due to lack of human resources, food banks and community organizations regularly end up with a surplus of raw produce which they cannot always sort through and transform. With more volunteers to help with harvesting crops, sorting, food preparation, and cooking, the incredible services offered by food banks and community organizations could be amplified. To get involved simply look into local centres in you're area, or ask us if we have any partners close to you . You can also volunteer by sending us a message and ask to join us when we lead transformation workshops at certain local community centres.
By becoming a subscriber to our annual membership program, you are helping to support our mission to reduce food waste and are also receiving a newsletter and a novelty jar, twice a year, made from incredible food which would have otherwise found its way into a landfill due to a flawed market appreciation of food. To find out more about our membership program, click the link below.
Support Local Initiatives & Producers
1. Reduce Your Food Miles
One of the most important ways buying locally helps the environment is by reducing your food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate.
2. More Accessible
Local businesses are able to operate in their local communities. It’s easy for them to bring their products to their consumers because their consumers are nearby. Take a farmers market for example - consumers are able to easily access lots of local homegrown produce without leaving their own community.
3. Fresher Produce
By buying and eating local, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is fresh and nutritious. Many local producers pride themselves on keeping their product organic, hormone free and pesticide free. Not only is this beneficial to the consumer, it’s also beneficial to the environment.
4. Local Workforce
Lastly, an added environmental benefit of buying locally is supporting the local workforce. For example, if you buy your groceries at the local farmers market, you’re helping to keep local growers, creators and farmers in their jobs. You’re also creating an opportunity for other local jobs such as the team who organizes the farmers market, the team that sets up the stalls, the team that cleans up at the end of the day, etc. All of these local businesses with local workers are in place because consumers are demanding local goods.
When we buy our food from smaller markets or directly from producers there is more stewardship of our food. We buy in the quantity we need and for a purpose. Buying local from local producers can increase our attachment to the food we buy and to the food we throw out. There are also a lot of awesome organizations in Montreal working to eliminate waste through the value chain. Below are just a few leaders in the mouvement
Have a look at some of links below to see just a few example of forward thinking initiatives here in Montreal!