Day Two: Food is for Eating

by Josée

About $27 billion worth of Canadian food ends up in our landfills each year. That’s equivalent to 40% of all the food we produce in Canada. Food waste occurs all along the food chain, but we consumers are responsible for 50% of the $27B. That’s right, Canadians throw away $13.5B worth of food each year and the majority of this waste can be avoided (Value Chain Management Centre, November 2010). What a waste!

The main reasons people throw away food is they’ve prepared too much, the food wasn’t used in time or they didn’t know what to do with the leftovers. But food waste is not as simple as some people believe. Here’s how WRAP explains the overarching effect of food waste on lovefoodhatewaste.com:

“Cheese is a good example – feeding and milking the cows, cooling and transporting the milk, processing it in to cheese, packing it, getting it to the shops, keeping it at the right temperature all the time. If it then gets thrown away it will most likely end up in a landfill site, where, rather than harmlessly decomposing as many people think, it rots and actually releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”

So, it’s not just food that’s wasted, but other people’s hard work, time and our planet’s valuable and limited resources. We need to make a serious effort at reducing food waste in our homes and here’s how:

1) Enjoy eating your food.

We live busy lives and many of us have good intentions of making healthy meals for our families. We buy beautiful produce, expensive cuts of meat, lovely cheeses only to have them rot away in the fridge in exchange for a quick take out meal at the local fast food joint. If you notice that you’re throwing unused food away each week buy less food, particularly if you have plans to eat out, and start taking the time to really enjoy the food you’ve spent your hard earned money on.

2) Get to know your fridge, freezer and cupboards.

Before you go grocery shopping look in your fridge and freezer to see what you have and what needs to be used up. Don’t buy more of what you already have unless you need more. Make note of what food is approaching its expiration and plan meals to use up those ingredients right away. Also, having a well stocked pantry allows you to be more creative in using up food before it wastes without having to make extra shopping trips.

3) Make a menu and a shopping list.

Not only will a menu and shopping list save you time and money, it will prevent impulse buys and ultimately prevent food waste. I find weekly menus work well for our household, other families prefer biweekly or even monthly. There are many websites that offer practical suggestions for making menus. Feel free to browse through my weekly menus for inspiration too.

4) Store perishable foods properly.

WRAP offers tips for storing foods. Storing food properly will make it last longer resulting in less food and money waste. For example, freeze nuts to keep them fresh or if you only use half an avocado leave the stone in the other half to keep it fresh.

5) Prepare the right portions.

Do you always find extra pasta or rice hiding out in the fridge? WRAP has an online tool that allows you to figure out the perfect portions for your meal. Use WRAP’s tool to calculate how much pasta you need to cook for a family of four or a family of ten. You can even use the tool to calculate vegetables, fruit, cereals, grains and pulses and meat and fish.

6) Use those leftovers.

Don’t be afraid to use leftover food. Eat it the next day for lunch or dinner or use it to make another meal. Another option, depending on the leftover, is to freeze it. Soups and stews freeze exceptionally well. Check Love Food Hate Waste for great leftover and food rescuing recipes.

7) Compost or vermicompost food scraps.

A small amount of food waste in unavoidable. Peels, cores, egg shells, coffee grounds and teabags are a few examples. But don’t send them to the trash! Composting food waste turns it into rich food for your plants and garden. Your city website should tell you where to buy a composter or make one yourself using free pallets (like this one). If you have no yard try vermicomposting. It doesn’t take much space and when done right it doesn’t smell. Trust me!

The Giveaway

Today’s giveaway is from Kootsacs. Kootsacs are made by a textile and clothing designer who saw a need for an alternative to plastic produce and bulk food bags. Kootsac bags are lightweight, strong, washable and reusable and are made from high quality ripstop nylon, 100% natural silk or 100% cotton. The bags come in various sizes to hold spices, herbs, grains, lentils, and produce both small and large. The bags weigh the same as plastics bags and have no drawstring for this reason.

A year ago I purchased a set of cotton and ripstop nylon produce bags from Kootsacs. They are fabulous and I recommend them to everyone. So naturally, I’m very excited about this giveaway. Without further ado, the giveaway:

Three beautiful Butterfly Bags.

These bags are made of 100% unbleached cotton and measures 25.4cm(10″) by 43.2cm(17″). The bags are suitable for produce or large amounts of grains and pulses. Each bag has been screen printed by hand using non-toxic water based textile paint. An image of a butterfly’s delicately folded wings reminds us that the earth is vulnerable and needs our care and attention (Kootsacs).

A big thank you to Kootsacs for sponsoring this giveaway!

Enter the Giveaway:

1) Leave a comment below about how your household plans to reduce food waste this week. Please leave an email address if you do not have a link on your name so I can contact you if you win.

2) Visit Kootsacs and then come back here and comment by telling me which bag you like the best.

3) Facebook, blog or tweet about this giveaway and link back to this blog. Leave a separate comment for each thing you’ve done telling me you’ve done so.

So there are multiple ways of entering this giveaway with a potential of five entries per person!

The giveaway ends Sunday, April 24, 2011 at midnight. 
The winner will be announced on April 25, 2011.
“The current practice of sending food to the landfill is the worst possible way of dealing with it and constitutes one of the clearest instances of our mismanagement of resources” 

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36 comments

Chantell April 18, 2011 - 8:19 pm

Great advice Josee, this is something we are working on all the time…it's hard to manage the kids food though, we use the policy – I decide when and what, they decide if and how much…To reduce wast this week, our first thing is to start composing! Bryan is picking a compost bin thing today at the Regional District! We actually started composting yesterday, saving our goods in a ice cream bucket!

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Tanya April 18, 2011 - 9:41 pm

Hmmm. Didn't know that about cheese ;-).
I think we do pretty well on this. If things are getting close to expiring, I freeze/dry/can liberally! We also eat alot of leftovers – saves time. But our preschooler wastes lots of food. He's so unpredictable in how much he'll eat. So often, his leftover scraps get thrown out because their mutilated to the point of noone wanting to eat them later.
Rather than guess how much he'll eat and put it in a bowl for him, I've decided to let him choose how much he is served at the table. There seems to be less leftover then.

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Fiona April 18, 2011 - 11:51 pm

What a lovely giveaway! We try to reduce food waste as much as we can — we pack leftover suppers into the kids' lunches, buy only what we need according to a weekly menu, keep running lists of what we're running low on and compost or give to the chickens anything that does go to waste — but I know we could do better. Maybe this week I'll try reorganizing my fridge so it's easier to reach stuff and/or rotate its contents — it's too easy for items to get pushed to the back and lost!

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Elisa April 18, 2011 - 11:57 pm

I love these posts! We already compost…I was actually going to quit, because the fruit flies in the house are too much…but I'm not going to now, instead I'll set up a fruit fly trap. =)

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Elisa April 18, 2011 - 11:58 pm

My fav. bags are the yellow reusable food ones. How cool!! I sincerely dislike throwing zip locks away…I will have to get some of these if I don't win.

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Elisa April 19, 2011 - 12:00 am

Tweeted about this giveaway! So excited! Thanks for writing these up. Great websites.

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Yellow Finch Designs April 19, 2011 - 1:11 am

What a great giveaway!! My focus (and especially with spring) is my compost. Anything that can go there will and as much that can go to recycling will. In fact, we just started making kids crafts and projects by raiding the recycle bin!

yellowfinchdesigns@yahoo.com
http://yellowfinchdesigns.blogspot.com

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Yellow Finch Designs April 19, 2011 - 1:11 am

I ♥ the butterfly and bee bags!

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Yellow Finch Designs April 19, 2011 - 1:12 am

I tweeted about this giveaway 🙂

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Jeanette April 19, 2011 - 2:50 am

I will not buy anymore frozen fruits or vegetables this week; instead, I will make sure I use up some of the supplies I have in my freezer (which is pretty scary!)

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Chantell April 19, 2011 - 4:58 am

My favorite kootsac is the "mixed" color pack. I would then use each color for insane fruits and veggies each week:-)

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rinebird April 19, 2011 - 5:43 am

I will tweet & FB about this giveaway.I know Morgan as a customer.I love the new bee bags & butterfly.I could store food to make it last.I have a tendency to over buy cheese.
rinebird on Twitter.rinebird@gmail.com

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Shovel Snow and Sew April 19, 2011 - 2:33 pm

Great post Josee! I always try to use my leftovers. I have been thinking about a committment to use up everything in my cupboards, so that I am only buying for that day or week's meals. Now that I know that so much is wasted, I am even more inspired!

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Shovel Snow and Sew April 19, 2011 - 2:35 pm

I have visited Kootsac many times! Morgen is a great friend, we do markets together. You are giving away my favourite bag of hers, and I like the silk ones very much too.

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Shovel Snow and Sew April 19, 2011 - 2:36 pm

I am posting now on fb about you… do you have a page there? Would love to mark it if you do. 🙂

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Shovel Snow and Sew April 19, 2011 - 2:43 pm

I tweeted! Too bad the link was too long for the tweet though, I could only reference your shop.

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Anonymous April 19, 2011 - 4:05 pm

I pulled out my starbucks mug and will be stopping off on my way to work using my mug for refills this coming week (for earth week) and will from now on support companies that promote fair-trade coffee for coffee bean farmers throughout the world (ie starbucks and/or second cup). Helen (your mom)

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cindyswobblog April 19, 2011 - 7:57 pm

I started composting this week! One of my good friends has a backyard compost that she is willing to let me be part of. I can't believe that by watching what I'm throwing out, how little there can be in my waste.

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Chantell April 19, 2011 - 7:58 pm

I face booked about this as well 🙂

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cindyswobblog April 19, 2011 - 8:22 pm

Facebooked about your site 🙂 I'm excited about the challenge.

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Fia Afiavi April 19, 2011 - 8:24 pm

I already compost all my food scraps thank you for this amazing blog and for the tip about cheese …well we finish the cheese in my family so quickly we never have to throw it away…good thing right?!!!

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caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:12 pm

I can't wait until the snow melts here and we can compost again! I plan to make meal plans this week and then only buy those items that I need for the meals. We have a hard time using our produce before it goes bad:(

richardrachel at hotmail dot com

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caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:14 pm

I love their turquoise bags! So pretty, so much more fun than the plastic produce bags:)

richardrachel at hotmail dot com

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caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:15 pm

tweet
http://twitter.com/#!/Caedmen/status/60451454653177856

richardrachel at hotmail dot com

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Kyler and Sylvia April 19, 2011 - 11:47 pm

I ordered us some chicks so they'll be accompanying our composting for food recycling. They will also hopefully be converting our lawn into food, rather than us mowing the lawn. I will go through our freezer again to make sure that our bargain bakery purchases are being properly cycled and/or used up.

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Kyler and Sylvia April 19, 2011 - 11:53 pm

For sure the set of three in the bright yellow… would probably make an ideal lunch kit for DH for the busy summer field season. The bright color would be harder to loose 🙂

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Laurie April 20, 2011 - 1:11 am

Mama resisted going to Tim Horton's because all she had was a reusable Starbuck's mug. She went to Starbucks and later found out that they support the local coffee growers by fair trade practises. All is good in coffee land now!

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yarngeek April 20, 2011 - 3:51 am

Love your article! Reducing waste this week by buying flour in bulk and splitting it with a friend. Bonus, the bag was recyclable too! I'm so excited about the Kootsacs. I'm thinking the cotton set would be first for me, as I tend to buy a lot of grains in bulk. Thanks for the giveaway!

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thefirstfouryears April 21, 2011 - 11:59 am

Those butterfly bags look amazing!!

Hmm, reduce food waste… I need to go through my fridge and make sure that I use the extra vegetables I bought last week. They end up buried behind our more frequently used items, so I often forget they are there when it is time to make a meal.

Nothing worse then finding a bag of rotten peppers behind the milk carton 🙁

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Rob April 22, 2011 - 12:01 am

This week, I'm sharing fresh food with others that I don't think I'll get through this week

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Rob April 22, 2011 - 12:07 am

I like the mixed color sets. One bag often wouldn't be enough, and multiple colors makes it easier to tell bags apart..rather than figuring out which of four identical blue bags holds what you want.

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ikkinlala April 22, 2011 - 2:19 pm

We already compost (and/or feed the scraps to livestock), but one goal I have that I can work on this week is to save food waste for soup rather than just composting it.

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

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ikkinlala April 22, 2011 - 2:21 pm

I like the natural silk bags best – they're not synthetic but they can be used for all the same things.

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

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Nicole April 23, 2011 - 4:44 am

Ah, this is a great topic. Too often lately, I've been finding forgotten food in the fridge! It's usually leftovers from my 3-year-old that I've covered and thought he'd eat later… I do compost it most of the time, but it still bothers me. We'll try harder – you're right about getting to know your fridge & pantry better, and taking stock before shopping (or cooking!). Thanks for the reminder!

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Nicole April 23, 2011 - 4:49 am

Mmm, silk bags sound nice!

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Anonymous April 23, 2011 - 7:36 am

I, too, think the butterfly and bee bags are very cute! ~Christine (you know who :>)

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