Are you throwing away edible food?

My personal journey with food waste started in October 2011, when I heard Dr. Ralph Martin, Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production from the University of Guelph, deliver a keynote speech about how we are going to feed ourselves in the future.

Among the insights, Dr. Martin provided compelling evidence that we as Canadians are throwing out 40% of all the food we produce. Every year $27.7 billion worth of edible food is wasted. And more bad news — we householders are responsible for 51% of it! That’s 183 kg per person!

Well, not me, thought I!

Sure we pretty much fill our GreenCart each week but it’s with inedible stuff. We don’t waste good food at our house. I can’t — it’s bred in my bones not to waste.  My mother trained me to be frugal. What’s more, I’m informed, given my professional work as a market researcher in solid waste diversion and in rebuilding our local food system. I know how to shop and prize local and organic food. And, I know how to cook — in our house we place high priority on cooking and sharing great food. We must be among the minority, I imagined, who simply don’t waste food that can be safely eaten.

I was in a state of denial.

Then I decided to put my GreenCart waste on trial — what were we filling it with? Understand this was a theoretical exercise only…but the closer I looked, the more I saw. Did we overbuy? Did potentially tasty leftovers get ‘lost’ in the fridge? (I have long preferred smaller fridges, not the humungous monsters that are common.) Did we get tired of eating that big pot of — you fill in the blank? Guilty on all three counts. As the old saying goes, “I looked at the problem and the problem was me.”

Suffice to say, we now shop more carefully with an eye to our schedules and a more realistic estimation of our needs. We make an effort to use everything that’s edible. That means freezing, dehydrating or and canning more things. We make more stocks, soups and stew with wilted produce and leftovers. We’re learning to reduce our food waste ‘footprint.’ It’s a continual work in progress and — it can be fun! Now I hope that I am better aligning my practice with my principles.

Try it yourself.

See how you fare and save money too — up to $28 per household each week. That’s the guestimated value of food the average Canadian household of 2.1 members wastes by throwing out perfectly edible food each week.

We can save money and reduce waste by shopping smarter and eating all our edible food!

About this guest blogger:

Guest blogger Helene St. Jacques

Guest blogger Hélène St. Jacques

Hélène St. Jacques is President of Informa Market Research. Prior to starting Informa, she was a research director at three major advertising agencies in Canada and Australia. Hélène is engaged in volunteer activities with a particular focus on food/health and community economic development. She serves as chair of Toronto Food Policy Council and is a long term past board member of FoodShare Toronto. Hélène  has a B.A. (University of Waterloo) and a M. Ed. (University of Toronto).

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5 Responses to Are you throwing away edible food?

  1. But according to the new analysis, words like “use by” and “sell by” are used so inconsistently that they contribute to widespread misinterpretation — and waste — by consumers. More than 90% of Americans throw out food prematurely, and 40% of the U.S. food supply is tossed–unused–every year because of food dating.

  2. Pingback: Ways to reduce food waste this Thanksgiving & Christmas while get more for your money! | FOODgirl UK - Jennifer Parker

  3. Pingback: Ways to reduce food waste this Thanksgiving & Christmas while getting more for your money! | FOODgirl UK - Jennifer Parker

  4. Pingback: Recycling in Downton Abbey | HaltonRecycles

  5. Pingback: Ways to reduce food waste this Thanksgiving & Christmas while getting more for your money! | Food Girl UK

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