From the very beginning of this blog a little over seven years ago, I have stressed the frugal aspects of all things food related. We are very fortunate in North America to have for the most part a safe and secure food supply. Yet from farm to table almost half of all food produced is wasted! The following short video indicates that this food wastage breaks down to farm (8%), food industry (4%), supermarkets (6%), restaurants (15%) and households (25%).
Food waste is obviously a huge concern and one which everyone should be addressing. Now, in fairness some food waste is unavoidable. Crops (eg. fruits, vegetables, grains), milk, fish, meats, poultry and etcetera are a spoilable commodity subject to handling damage. At the farm level, weather conditions and disease contribute towards food wastage. Food is lost to spoilage during transit from farm to processing plants and even processed foods can be lost in transit from the processing plants to consumer. Part of the food wastage in supermarkets is due to the sell by or best by dates but can also be due to equipment malfunction. Supermarkets must discard foods at certain times due to health regulations and it must be discarded in such a manner (eg. into locked waste containers) to meet liability restrictions. Food wastage in restaurants is two fold, that which occurs as a result of preparing the food which in most cases is minimal and that which occurs via patrons. As a restaurant patron you can do your part to reduce food waste while there by: declining extras that come with your meal (eg. dinner rolls) if you know you won't eat them, eating what your order, bring home any leftovers and avoiding those restaurants that do not allow you to bring home your leftovers. The highest level of food wastage occurs in the home and that is where you can actually make a difference that will save you a considerable amount of money.
The figure I have heard recently is that 40% of every food dollar is wasted. This figure has a bit more meaning to the frugal home cook than the 25% of all food is wasted in the home. Either way, it helps to visualize the waste. If you spend $100 on food, you will waste $40 of that food. If you take a pie and cut it into four even pieces, then toss one piece out, that is 25% of the pie aka food gone. It cost you money but you got nothing out of it and the worst part is, some of that food that was wasted could have fed someone in need. All other factors aside, reducing food wastage at home is an easy, no cost, frugal activity for all household members. Throughout this blog, there are a multitude of ways to reduce food waste and maximize your food dollar, including the regular Frugal Kitchens 101 series. Here are ten things you can do to reduce food wastage in your home:
- serve smaller portion sizes
- buy or preserve in smaller container sizes so as to use the contents without left overs
- use up leftovers or freeze for later use
- don't peel fruits or vegetables unless absolutely necessary
- dehydrate fruit and vegetable peelings for homemade powders
- compost non-edible fruit and vegetable peelings
- store foods in proper storage containers
- vacuum seal dry foods to protect against insect and moisture damage
- date all foods in storage especially those you have canned, frozen or dehydrated
- rotate your food supplies so that new goes at the back pushing the older stock to the front