I remember the days when there were only three places you could buy food—directly from a farmer, at a grocery store or at a convenience store. Things have changed. Gigantic department stores have sprung up that have an entire wing devoted to food, often sold in bulk. In addition, food can now be found in the aisles of hardware stores and drug stores!
Along with all of the locations stocking perishable food comes the greater reality of food being wasted. Inventories need to be maintained; variety must be offered to the consumer; dairy products have a short shelf life. It is reported by the Value Chain Management Centre that food waste at the retail level is about $3 billion dollars per year in Canada. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of food wasted. The total documented in a report released in October 2012 is $27 billion.
As consumers, we spend a great deal of time trying to save money on food, but homes are the worst offenders in throwing out perfectly good food, about $13.7 billion dollars worth annually. Why does this happen?
- We tend to buy more food than they can use. If we don’t keep track of what is in their pantries and fridges the result will be waste by spoilage.
- We may not know how to make the most of the food we have. Some fruit can be eaten unpeeled for added fibre. Some food that does not look appealing to eat can still be used: bruised apples can be made into applesauce, wilted vegetables will taste fine in soup and bananas with dark skins make great banana bread.
- We may look at the “Best Before” date as an expiry date, but this is not proper. Yogurt can be eaten up to 2 weeks past the BB date with no danger to health as long as there is no visible mould. Milk past the date can be used in baked goods calling for “sour milk.” A dried out roll or heel of bread can be heated briefly in the microwave to restore moisture or dried out further to make bread crumbs.
I’d be interested in how you avoid food waste at your house.