Have you gone to market when you are hungry? Have you cooked meals for Thanksgiving Day? Do you have experience with cooking your meal on the first day of living alone? You may be curious about why I ask those questions. Why do I ask those kinds of questions? These questions are for knowing that you have experience with food waste.
Some people may think that this is a huge topic that only politicians or non-profit organization should care. In a sense, this thought is not wrong. It is indeed a global-wide problem that threatens our food resources. United Nations Environment Programme report “consumer in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as [. . .] 230 million ton.” This is not the only fact that makes “food waste” the topic that is out of the public league.
However, like questions that I asked at the beginning, food waste is related to our everyday life. If you have leftover food in your refrigerator, but don’t eat it and throw away, that is one of the examples of food waste. To familiarize you with food waste issue, I will introduce you a “Don’t List” to prevent food waste and a “Do List” to solve our existing problems of food waste mainly from the household.
- Don’t go to the market when you are hungry
When you are hungry, you are more likely to buy more food than you need. In my case, I bought extra fruits or snacks when I am hungry. Hunger makes me not being able to stop buying anything that looks delicious on impulse. In other words, I buy more food than I actually need when I hungry. Overbought food is usually left, stuck in refrigerator or shelves, forgotten, rotten and wasted. It leads to food waste of household.
- Don’t go to grocery shopping without shopping lists
Here is the story of Mary who is not using shopping lists when shopping. 1/4 carrot, ½ onion, 300g of ground beef, one tablespoon of starch, spaghetti, and tomato sauce are ingredients of meatball tomato pasta, which is Mary’s dinner menu. She just needs to buy carrot and ground beef for today’s menu. However, she finds that Ohio potatoes package is on sale. The package includes ten potatoes. When she sees potatoes, she wants to eat a baked potato. Even if she lives alone and doesn’t need ten potatoes, the package was cheaper than the normal price. So, she buys it and enjoys meatball pasta and a delicious baked potato. And she forgets the rest of Ohio potatoes kept in the top shelf of her kitchen. A week later, she wants to eat steak and mashed potato on the side. Fortunately, she recalls potatoes in the top shelf. When she takes out potatoes, she finds that potatoes begin to sprout. Her mother told her that a sprouting potato had a poison. So, she throws away potatoes. Mary is not the only one who experience food waste resulted from shopping with no planning. Shopping list is not only for remembering what we should buy, but also for not wasting our money, time, and food!
- Don’t neglect to manage your refrigerator
Bacteria that cause a rotten process and food-borne illness are contagious. One food in the refrigerator starts to be rotten, so does the other food at the same shelf of the refrigerator, even if it still has more time before its expiration date. Eventually, you should throw away all food in the same shelf to avoid being infected by bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. It results in food waste! If you want to avoid this kind of food waste, you should not neglect to manage your refrigerator, such as distinguish between old food and fresh food, regularly.
- Do use all food you bought today
If you buy 300g of ground beef for the meatball, you should try to use all 300g of ground beef for the meatball! If you buy one onion, try to use it all too. Left ingredients in the refrigerator or shelves can be easily forgotten and as I mentioned in “Don’t list,” it leads to food waste. If your today’s menu doesn’t need any more ingredients, try to cook another menu that use the left ingredient. Trying to use all food you bought that day is a baby step to prevent food waste in the household.
- Do change your storage method
Whether fresh or cooked, some water is always oozed from vegetables. It could be moisture for growing bacteria rapidly. If you cannot prevent it, you should throw away those water oozed, begin-to-be-rotten vegetables. There is a simple solution for unexpected food waste: changing storage method! Kitchen towel in the bottom of a plastic container absorbs water from vegetables. It slows bacterial growth and keeps vegetables fresh. There are many storage methods like this. To avoid food waste in the household, please take account of using the right storage method for each food.
- Do label on your leftover
Labeling cooking date on your leftover could prevent old and new leftovers from being mixed. So, we can eat the old leftover first and newer one next. Even if we could not eat leftover at the right time, we could throw away before other foods are infected by old leftover. Eating all leftover is the best for preventing food waste, but labeling cooking date on your leftover help you at least to decrease the rate of food waste in the household.
UNEP. (2015, October 16). Food waste: the facts. United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office of North America. Retrieved from http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts.