The amount of food we waste in Canada is tragic, given growing concerns about food security and the impact of food waste on the environment. Here are some recipes and tips for using every bit of valuable nutrition from the food you buy.
The world throws out far too much food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), close to one-third of global food production gets lost or wasted—nearly 1.3 billion tonnes!
Certainly, the world would be far better off if we reduced food waste.
But the truth is that Canada alone throws out $31 billion worth of food annually—and that doesn’t include the amount of food waste from institutions (hospitals, prisons, and schools) and from the travel industry—especially cruise ships. That’s a tragic loss of foodstuffs—and it’s also extremely costly.
Banking on food
More than 850,000 Canadians use food banks, 36 percent of them children. The numbers have increased by 26 percent since the 2008 recession.
Not only is it a tragic loss of food, but, according to FAO, it’s also a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour, and capital. Wasted and tossed food also needlessly produces greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
One clear way we can do our part to reduce food waste is to use up as much of the produce we buy as possible in our cooking. This could include vegetable peelings, fruit cores, vegetable stems, and roots. Most of us are accustomed to tossing these often very nutritious components into the compost bin along with our coffee grounds and tea bags.
Freeze peels and roots!
Drop unused peels and root stems into a large sealable tub as they accumulate from your cooking. Then pop the sealed tub into your freezer for the next time you’re in the kitchen. Fruit peels are ideal for fermented recipes such as ciders, delicious in fruit butters, and excellent whirled into smoothies or baked into muffins or breads.
When shopping, the important thing to remember is to source the best local produce. If it’s not considered pesticide safe by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) or in the top 15 products regarded as clean, then hunt for organic—particularly when using skins and peel.
The circle of life
Another way to reduce food waste is to give leftover produce new life indoors. How? There are countless online sites that show how easy it is. From growing new stalks with that celery bulb to growing your avocado seed into an avocado tree, there are plenty of ways of regenerating instead of rejecting these treasures!
In our feature, we’ll show you how your accumulated (previously discarded) bounty can make perfect ingredients for such kitchen necessities as stocks and sauces. Try these no-scrap-wasted recipes and you’ll soon be advocating all the waste-not-want-not pleasures of embracing each important part of your flavourful, nutrition-packed food.
Tomato, Eggs, and Beans with Creamy Kale Pesto
Vegan Herbed Soup Stock
Fruit Peel and Apple Cider Vinegar
The Ultimate Vegan Burger
Refreshing Watermelon Rind Gazpacho
It’s not just food items that you can compost. We’ve listed a few items that just might surprise you. For more things not on this list, check out your local recycling facility.
- used paper napkins
- paper towels
- unwaxed pizza boxes and paper bags, torn into pieces
- used paper plates
- paper cupcake or muffin cups
- toothpicks and bamboo skewers
- wooden chopsticks
- hair—yours and your pets
- toilet paper rolls
- pencil shavings
- sticky notes
- business cards
- latex balloons
- vacuum cleaner contents
- fireplace ashes
Best way to compost in your home
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, there are many ways to compost effectively. Most importantly, it must not smell. If it does, you’re adding something you shouldn’t.
- Purchase a sound indoor compost bin. Or make your own. There are many DIY compost ideas online.
- Be sure to only compost food items that will decompose quickly without creating a bad odour.
- Practise indoor worm composting for speedy results.
- Compost correctly and you’ll be turning soil in no time at all.