Food Waste and Food-Related Waste
In class, we explored problems in our everyday lives. As someone who is very environmentally conscious, I chose to focus more on the topic of food waste. Before we begin, I want to clarify the following terms:
Food waste = consumables that are thrown away
Food-related waste = everything that is wasted during the growing, processing, packaging, and transportation of food
My journey to reduce food waste began after watching the documentary Just Eat It. The documentary features a young couple in Vancouver that live off of food waste for 6 months. It opened my eyes to the food industry and the abundance of food that is wasted on a daily basis at every level of the industry. Canadians can watch the documentary here for free.
Other sources of inspiration was Britta Riley and the open source Window Farms movement, as well as Stephen Ritz who turned his students into better beings by teaching them how to garden. In both instances, they have not only transformed their living environment, they have also transformed themselves.
What I’ve Done to Minimize Food Waste and Food-Related Waste This Year
1. Buy produce that is ugly because no one else will
Unfortunately, most ugly fruits and produce are wasted (composted hopefully) before they even arrive at the grocery store shelf. I choose to do my shopping at stores such as No Frills and Buy-Low Foods, stores targeted towards lower income people. What makes these stores unique is that they offer these unwanted “ugly” fruits and vegetables and at a pretty big discount. My favourite item is the bag of ugly single bananas they carry for 50% off retail price. I end up with about 5lbs of bananas for about $2.00.
When did pretty fruits and vegetables become synonymous with wealth? Are we so shallow that we even judge produce by their cover? C’mon guys.
2. Commit to growing my own vegetables
Earlier this summer, I took a wooden shipment palette and turned it into a vertical planter for the small patio. I also planted a bunch of herbs and salad greens. This reduces the amount spent on groceries and the amount of food-related waste. The best part is that vegetables taste so much better fresh and there is no waste – in fact, the plants just keep growing.
Unfortunately, they are doing some painting and membrane work on the outside of the apartment this summer so I had to move all the plants inside until they are done.
3. Encouraging others
My mother lives in an apartment with no balcony so she cannot have a garden. I helped her get a spot at the community garden. Since then, the garden has flourished and we have more vegetables than we can eat. She is very proud of her vegetable garden and is now encouraging her friends and co-workers to start gardening with her next year.
My journey to reduce food waste doesn’t just end here. I plan on continuing what I’ve done and do even more next year. Every meal, I get to incorporate fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden. I’ve even started drying out some of the herbs for the coming winter. My journey to reduce food waste has changed the way I think about the food industry, the food I eat, and where it comes from – the closer I am to the source, the more ethical, nutritious, and delicious it is.