As we look for ways to save money on our household bills, many of us aren’t aware that food waste not only hits us in the pocket but has a serious impact on the environment too. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says food wastage across the world – totalling 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually – is the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions after China and the USA.
The reasons for food waste are numerous, and occur at every stage of production, processing, retailing and consumption. In South Africa alone, around 44% of all fruit and veg produced goes to waste before it reaches our shelves according to the CSIR report, this accounts for R 12.5 billion loss in the agricultural sector.
One of the largest reasons for fruit and veg going to waste is the consumer’s desire to purchase visually appealing produce, as well as the rules and regulations that govern the standards of the fruit and vegetable purchases of retailers, which include the size and shape. Consumers shop with their eyes, if they have the option of purchasing a shiny, perfect apple as opposed to a slightly bruised or oddly shaped one, they would probably select the former even though they taste the same.
You’ve probably already heard the usual tips for reducing food waste, plan your meals, stick to a shopping list, buy only what you know you’ll use. Indeed, these tips do reduce food waste, however, there is a lot more we can do to reduce food waste in our homes. Below are some useful tips for reducing fruit and veg waste in your own home.
Perform CPR (Culinary Produce Resuscitation)
Sometimes, you may forget to properly store your fruit and veg but that bendy carrot may still have some life in it yet. In fact, can we let you in on a little secret? Pretty much any sad veggies can be rescued magnificently by pureeing or mashing. Simply cook until soft, blitz and smash, and you have a veggie smash that becomes pure kitchen gold. Use these purees to add some hum to your hummus, some zip to your dip, some body to your soup, stew or curry.
Store your fruit and veg properly.
Like with real CPR, you want to prevent the need for it happening rather than relying on it all the time, right? Treat your produce right and it’ll stay fresh for longer.
Rather than worrying out about how to best store your carrots versus your cucumbers, use these simple guidelines.
- If your fresh produce is not in the produce drawer, give it a home in a transparent container or plastic bags you can re-use. If you notice anything is drying out, sprinkle a few drops of water over it before it goes back into the fridge. Mushrooms, as the hipsters of the food world, find plastic way too mainstream and like to live in paper bags.
- Don’t tell your apples about this, but some fruits give off a gas called ethylene which puts most veggies right off – so keep fruit and veg separate. Ripen those fruits on the counter and then refrigerate (plus they’ll taste better, and you’ll see and eat them more often). Herbs are so delicious yet so hard to keep fresh! For basil, put them in a glass or vase, but strip the bottom of the stems so the leaves aren’t touching the water.
- For other herbs, lay them down to sleep in one of those many, many takeaway containers you’ve squirrelled, with a few drops of water. You’ll be able to keep an eye on them and if they’re just dull, but haven’t started wilting too badly, freeze them for a soup or dip.
- Keep all the food that’ll go off quickly at the front of your fridge, or at the very top of your produce drawer this way you are inclined to eat them first.
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