Household food waste
Did you know that over 50 percent of food waste in single-family households is avoidable? This includes leftovers and untouched food that could have been eaten at one point. It’s estimated that avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household over $1,100 per year.
We often waste good food unintentionally. It goes to waste because we buy too much, cook too much, or don’t store it correctly.
In an effort to reduce avoidable food waste, the Winnipeg Food Council, with support from the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba, is partnering with Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) Canada to help our residents get more out of their food, save money, and reduce trips to the grocery store.
Why is food waste a problem?
According to Love Food Hate Waste Canada, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year in Canada, costing in excess of $17 billion. In addition to the economic costs, food waste has substantial environmental impacts. Wasted food means wasted resources used to grow, produce and distribute that food to consumers. It also creates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
To put that in perspective, Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road.
In Winnipeg, most of the food and organic material that residents dispose of goes into their garbage carts and ends up in our landfill. Some Winnipeggers already have the opportunity to try diverting their food waste through the City’s two-year Residential Food Waste Collection Pilot Project, which began in October 2020. Food waste from homes in several areas of Winnipeg is being collected and diverted from the landfill and turned into compost at the Brady Road Resource Management Facility. This pilot project will help determine if residents feel a city-wide program is valuable and what that program could look like.
Learning how to reduce our avoidable food waste is valuable for all Winnipeggers, even if a city-wide food waste program is implemented. Getting the most out of the food we buy saves money, grocery store trips and helps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Tips to reduce your food waste
Here are some easy tips to help you start reducing your food waste:
- Once a week, spend some time planning meals for the upcoming week.
- Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before shopping. See what needs to be used up and then think of a meal to make with those items.
- To preserve freshness and nutrition, use perishables like seafood and meat earlier in the week and save staples (pasta, dairy, eggs) for later in the week.
- Buy fresh vegetables in smaller amounts and use frozen vegetables to fill in the gaps.
Keep it fresh
- Keep food fresh longer by storing it in the correct place and setting the temperature in your fridge to 4°C or lower.
- Set one produce drawer to high humidity to store vegetables that wilt, like leafy greens, and another produce drawer to low humidity for fruits and some vegetables that produce ethylene, like apples and peppers.
- Freeze items to make them last longer. Bread can last up to three months in the freezer, chicken can last up to nine months and most vegetables can be frozen for eight months to a year.
- Keep this fridge guide handy to help you use your fridge more effectively.
Use it up
- Soak wilted vegetables like celery, lettuce, broccoli or carrots in a bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes to reinvigorate them.
- Fruits and vegetables past their prime are not only great in smoothies, but also taste great in baked, stir-fried and grilled dishes.
- A best before date is not the same as an expiration date. If a package has remained unopened, even after the best before date, it can still be of good quality and freshness, as long as it has been stored properly.
- Learn or create new recipes which allow you to use the entire food, such as making chips from potato peels or pesto with carrot tops.
- Try pickling to preserve fruits and vegetables for a later day.
Want more food waste reduction tips and recipes? Visit lovefoodhatewaste.ca
This partnership is made possible with financial support from: