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Tackling Food Waste All Around You

By Michelle Wong

Contributing Author


Over 50% of the food wasted in single-family households in Toronto is avoidable, such as leftovers and untouched food that was edible at one point (City of Toronto, n.d). In fact, avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household approximately $1,100 per year (City of Toronto, n.d). As you can see, food waste is a significant issue throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Canada. We often waste food due to overbuying, lack of planning meals, and incorrect storage of food (City of Toronto, n.d). However, some food waste is unavoidable, such as bones, shells, tea bags, fruit cores, and peels (City of Toronto, n.d). Food waste also has immense environmental impacts, with the resources used to grow, produce, and distribute food that is thrown away (City of Toronto, n.d). Further, when food waste is sent to landfills, greenhouse gas emissions are produced, specifically methane (City of Toronto, n.d). Approximately 31% of the total amount of food wasted per person in Canada are fruits and vegetables, the most commonly wasted food (City of Toronto, n.d; Ryerson University, 2018). As such, this blog will focus on ways to reduce organic food waste.


To change the situation of food waste that we currently find in our world, we must change the way we look at the food that we view as waste. From the ends of vegetables to excess cooked food, we can transform them into new dishes or find new purposes for them.


The journey of food generally has 7 steps: farmers, processing and packaging factories, distributors, grocery retailers, food service suppliers, residents, and municipal waste management division, all of which create fruit and vegetable waste (Ryerson University, 2018). For the purposes of this blog post, the strategies presented to reduce organic waste will be broken up into 3 sections: purchasing, preparing, and disposing.



  1. Purchasing

When purchasing food from a grocery store or supermarket, some simple tips to reduce food waste from Click and Grow (2017) are:

  • Going to the grocery store more often and purchasing less each time

  • Planning meals and shopping lists precisely


But if you want to take it a step further, growing your own produce from scraps of vegetables that you have is a way to make an even more direct impact on reducing organic food waste (Click and Grow, 2017). Scraps or damaged vegetables that can be planted in a garden outdoors to be regrown include potatoes, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, and cabbage (Self Sufficient Me, 2020). After 3 months, the growth of the vegetables will surprise you, with edible produce coming from mere vegetable scraps. For a more in depth and educational video, check out Self Sufficient Me’s video on regrowing vegetable scraps. If you live in a location without access to an outdoor area, hydroponic gardens can be a great opportunity to start growing your own lettuce heads and tomatoes (Click and Grow, 2017).


2. Preparing

To prepare food without creating as much food waste, it is important to only prepare as much as you can eat or store for however many days. Furthermore, looking up and utilizing recipes for leftovers or vegetable scraps will reduce the amount of food waste created and increase the use of the resource. To reduce organic waste, you can create stir fry, pesto, smoothies, vegetable stock, and more, utilizing vegetable scraps and excess fruit (Tasty, 2018). For more recipes from kitchen scraps, check out Tasty’s video.


3. Disposing

The first tip to reducing food waste is to avoid throwing away food that could’ve been eaten in the first place (RecycleNow, n.d). Not only will this save money, but it will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (RecycleNow, n.d). Additionally, home composting is a great way to recycle food waste (RecycleNow, n.d). It is an inexpensive and natural process that changes kitchen waste into rich and nutritious food for your garden (RecycleNow, n.d). When composting at home, your bin should be in a sunny spot on bare soil, and should have a balance of 50% greens and 50% browns to create the right mix (RecycleNow, n.d). The compost will become dark brown, crumbly, slightly moist, and emit a nice and earthy smell (RecycleNow, n.d). You can use this compost in flower beds, around trees, in potted plants, for healthier vegetables and herbs, on your lawn, and more (RecycleNow, n.d). For more information on home composting, take a look at RecycleNow’s page on home composting.


If you are looking for more ways to offset the impact of food waste, donating money to hunger alleviation organizations such as Rising Sun Food Drive Foundation, who procure food directly from suppliers for those in need that may otherwise be thrown away, can make a huge difference. If you’d like to aid in reducing food waste, click here to donate.


Bibliography

City of Toronto. (n.d). Food Waste. City of Toronto. https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/recycling-organics-garbage/long-term-waste-strategy/waste-reduction/food-waste/

Click and Grow. (2017, March 3). How to Reduce Food Waste With Indoor Gardening. Click and Grow. https://ca.clickandgrow.com/blogs/news/how-to-reduce-food-waste-with-indoor-gardening

Ryerson University. (2018, May). From Farm to Fork to Landfill: Food Waste in Toronto. Ryerson University. https://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/social-innovation/Tools-Resources/FromFarmtoFork_ReportandBibliography_RU.pdf

RecycleNow. (n.d). COMPOSTING. RecycleNow. https://www.recyclenow.com/reduce-waste/composting

RecycleNow. (n.d). HOW IS FOOD WASTE RECYCLED? RecycleNow. https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/how-is-it-recycled/food-waste

Self Sufficient Me. (2020, October 17). What Happens When You REGROW Vegetables From Kitchen SCRAPS in the Garden? [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnBV6X1_Ph0 Tasty. (2018). 8 Unexpected Ways You Can Use Kitchen Scraps [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5wgkescy_o


Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the contributing author. Rising Sun Food Drive Foundation makes every effort to provide space for young people to advocate and voice their thoughts, research, opinions and ideas that are inspired by our mission but may not reflect on the organization's services and operations.

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