Food waste is a subject that is finally starting to get the attention it deserves. It’s a huge problem, and it has been swept under the rug for a long time. However, it’s time for us to open our eyes to what’s happening and step up to make a change.
Food waste fail?
Let’s first unwrap a few facts about food waste.
- According to the United Nations Environment Programme) every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons).
- The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10).
In the United States, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions. Also in the United States, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted – equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. We clearly produce enough food to feed the world if we just stop the waste.
Who’s wasting food?
Did you know that 18- to 24-year olds are some of the biggest food wasters around the world? I was a little surprised by that since Millennials are also said to be the biggest foodies. In a way, that makes sense though. You can’t taste all the food AND eat all the leftovers, can you? Food waste has to come into the equation somewhere.
SpoonLed, a Youth Food Movement in Australia, is striking out that mentality and showing Millennials how they can reduce food waste in fun and inventive ways. SpoonLed is a live event and video series that teaches Millennials the creative cooking hacks that will help them prevent food waste.
“It’s not about guilt, it’s about creative solutions – and empowering people to lead and eat by example in social ways that gives food the respect it deserves,” explains Helena Rosebery, SpoonLed Creative Director.
The live events are one-day sessions that strive to empower people to reduce food waste in ways that are fun and creative. If you attend an event live, you’ll get to actually try your hand at various food hacks inspired by food legends. To inspire Millennials to spread the word about reducing food waste far and wide, SpoonLed sells tickets to its events in twos. That way you are more driven to bring a friend with you to the event who can benefit from learning food waste reduction tactics.
In addition to the live events, SpoonLed has also put together a YouTube video series to teach Millennials how to reduce food waste. While the SpoonLed events are specific to Australia, the tips shared in these videos can apply to anyone, anywhere in the word. Here are some of the food waste reduction tips conveyed.
What to do with produce past its peak
SpoonLed suggests something really great to do with produce that has gone past its peak freshness rather than tossing it. While composting is a noble task, actually consuming the food is even more noble. Next time you have produce that is past peak, cook it down to soften it, mash it up and freeze it. Mashed food isn’t just for babies. You can use your mashed up produce later in soups, muffins, sauces and sandwiches.
Did you know you could freeze that?
Many people aren’t aware of just how many food items can be frozen to extend their life. Some of these things include shallots, eggs, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce and cucumber. All of these items can go bad quickly, so knowing you can freeze them can prevent you from wasting them. Freezing of eggs is something I’ve recently been looking into because our backyard chickens are egg-producing machines right now. Next winter, however, I know they’ll slow to a crawl again. It would be nice to have a stockpile of nutritious eggs all winter.
Ingredients you don’t actually need to toss in the trash
Most people automatically toss perfectly usable parts of their produce into the trash without a second thought. Some of these pieces include stocks, stems, tops, greens, skins and rinds. You can find plenty of things to do with most of these items, though! You can freeze pieces and parts to toss into homemade broths. Many tops and greens are actually edible. You can sauté them, add them to salads or blend them into smoothies. Lots of people turn watermelon rinds into pickles. Google and Pinterest have lots of great ideas for using these parts that are often thought to be unusable.
Upcycle those leftovers into something beautiful
What do you do with leftovers? Do they automatically go in the trash or compost? Do they go back in the fridge and sit there until they sour? Or do you use them? We are very good about using our leftovers in various ways. SpoonLed has some great ideas for upcycling your leftovers into beautiful meals.
- You can re-flavor them by adding fresh herbs.
- You can refresh things like noodles by tossing them into a pan with some freshly cooked meat and veggies.
- Or you can reinvent them. Have you tried pouring a few scrambled eggs and green onions over leftover pasta? SpoonLed calls it Pastatta. What a fun idea! I’ll have to try that with my kids soon.
Two-minute microwave brunch
During the off season, we typically do Sunday Brunch in our house. It’s a fun way to start a nice family day. We tend to make a big meal, but you can do Sunday brunch in a hurry too. If you have a microwave, you can microwave a couple of scrambled eggs and serve them over a couple of slices of toast topped with fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s a good way to use up that produce while it’s still fresh.
You can watch all 5 of SpoonLed’s food waste food hack videos to see these tips in action.
Want to help reduce food waste in your area? Get involved. Teach others some of these creative hacks by sharing this post with them on your favorite social media channel.
What other tips can you share to help reduce food waste? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.
Feature image credit: Anchiy / Shutterstock