How to stop food wastage
World Food Day is annually celebrated on October 16. It typically would have different themes yearly: “Women feed the World” (1998); “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development” (2017). In the light of this remarkable day, I would like to remind us about food waste and what steps to stop wasting food. Food waste is so common in our society and in the world at large. Did you know that one-third of all food is wasted worldwide? The most wasted foods are those that are needed the most: half of all fruits and vegetables are wasted! In Africa, the food reportedly wasted alone could feed 300 million people! President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim said, “Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tonnes of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to the market.” If the guilt of so many people worldwide hungry doesn’t make you reduce wastage, nothing else will; the statistics are heartbreaking.
How food wastes
I have wasted a lot of food in the past but now I purchase and cook food intentionally to prevent as much waste as possible. The last time I tossed my half-eaten-forgotten-banana-turned-brown, I looked around me to make sure no one saw the atrocity I was about to commit. I felt guilty and all that kept playing through my mind were images of hungry children who had nothing to eat. I hate that feeling, so I had to figure out why and how food goes to waste in the first place, and you may find that this applies to you also. That will lead us to finding the solutions to food waste.
Buying in bulk: Yes, I have written multiple articles about the benefits of purchasing food in bulk because it is cheaper, but if you don’t buy the right items, you will end up wasting food. I prefer to buy food items that are not easily perishable like rice, spaghetti, amala powder, dry pepper etc instead of buying tomatoes, yam and vegetables in bulk.
Not planning meals: Meal planning is very important. You should know what you will eat weekly/monthly, and make sure to purchase only food that you will cook within your plan. There is no use buying ewedu in the market because it looked too fresh to ignore, whereas you have no plans to eat same vegetable within that week. Recall, the shelf life for fresh vegetables are generally poor so it’s only a few days before the leaves turn limp and black and end up in your bin.
Disorganisation: Am I the only one that has forgotten food just because it wasn’t placed where it could easily be seen and remembered? Many times, I find food, perhaps coriander/parsley that I had great plans for; I find them a little too late, after they have gone off. Store food strategically to avoid wastage. Get familiar with ways to properly store food items bought instead of tossing them anywhere around the kitchen or especially store.
Tips that help prevent food waste
Only buy food you will eat. If you need just two cucumbers, buy only two instead of buying more for “just in case” reasons.
Meal plan. Even if you don’t follow it strictly, a little goes a long way.
Serve small portions then add more if you’re not full, instead of piling a lot that does not get finished.
Don’t store food where you can’t see them. If possible, stick “best by” labels on them.
Check expiration dates before you buy any item at the supermarket. Check behind products that are placed at the front of the shelves.
Give food away if you know you will not use them all in time.
Repurpose and improvise with food. Left over white rice without stew can easily become fried rice if you add a few carrots, peas, peppers, and spice.
Do an audit of food stored before you make dinner, or go shopping; you may be able to cook with what you have than buying more.
Request for half portions when you eat out instead of buying full portions and wasting the rest of it.
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