The Not-So Starving Student—Food Waste

Why Canadians are Part of the Problem (and Solution)

Canadians are among the top contributors to food waste in the world (Janus, 2019).  One of the first things we find in grocery stores are the rows upon rows of beautifully stacked, glossy apples and pears that meet the eye.  But what happens to the crates of avocados that are oddly shaped or the bananas that are mildly bruised but perfectly edible? The answer to this question is that a much of it is rejected because of the potential lack of appeal to customers.  Seeing an apple with a dent might deter us from purchasing it.  These “naturally imperfect” fruits and veggies are often tossed away, creating a large waste problem that many of us are unaware of, even though the produce is perfectly safe to eat.

And in our own homes, sometimes when a fruit is blemished we tend to think of them it as rotten, but it may be just as nutritious as the non-ripe ones from the supermarket.  So what can we do to reduce food waste in our daily lives?

Save your leftovers:

This carrot from my backyard likely will not be making it to the supermarket shelves

If you have leftovers from a meal, instead of throwing them in the trash, try storing them in plastic containers and bringing them as meal prep.  One of the challenges some people have is remembering to eat the food after packaging it, though.  A solution to this is to have a fridge calendar and keep track of items in your fridge.

Grow your own food:

Growing your own food not only helps save dollars spent on grocery bills, but also helps us appreciate the food we eat.  For myself, I know the challenges of growing even one successful tomato plant, and thus making me less inclined to toss tomatoes I purchase from the supermarket when they have gone soft.  In the summer, Canadians can experiment with gardening, and, in the winter, looking for options to move some plants indoors for a year round supply of certain types of produce.  For more information about this, check out my previous article on growing your own food in the kitchen.

Make smart purchasing decisions

The inclination to bulk purchase is partly due to the consumerism culture many large grocers have created.  For example, Costco’s gigantic sacs of navel oranges or the 10 kg bags of potatoes available at most grocery stores don’t always help us make smart decisions about food preparation.  In fact, many times our estimates are way off, leading to greater waste at the end of the day.  Instead of impulse purchasing, look into smaller independent grocers such as No Frills that offer smaller portions.  This not only helps declutter the fridge, but also means less waste and thus less dollars wasted.

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