Strategies agains food waste
Too often food is produced not to be eaten, but sold; we must return to having a proper relationship with food.Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food Association
To start a process of rapprochement with simplicity, it is necessary to start from one’s own habits, optimizing time and resources with the aim of exploiting those practices that distance us from the goal of degrowth. Although it is necessary to rethink the food system at a global level in order to systematically reduce waste and redistribute resources where they are most needed, it is from our home that we can actually intervene methodically on food waste, reducing the amount of food thrown away in the garbage without being consumed.
According to the 2018 Report of the Waste Watcher of Last Minute Market / Swg, six out of ten Italians declare to throw away food once a month. Often we are afraid of the categorical expiry terms and prefer not to consume fresh products that we consider deteriorated, even if often the legends are not interpreted correctly and the foods are perfectly edible; sometimes, however, we rely on the consideration of the aesthetic aspect and make superficial evaluations. Even though 39% of Italians say they waste less than two years ago, 3 kg of food per capita each month are thrown away in the trash. In terms of costs, this translates into € 8.5 billion a year, 0.6% of GDP.
To improve our habits and further reduce waste, and the resulting costs, there are small daily precautions that we can follow.
Planning a weekly menu is useful to reduce waste: if you have, in fact, a list of ingredients needed to prepare meals you tend to buy the indispensable, avoiding unnecessary products that would unnecessarily crowd your pantry. Obviously, the food must be purchased in the correct quantity, preferably in bulk, so as not to be tempted by the savings packages or the 3×2 offers, which force us to buy and spend more than necessary.
If we prefer seasonal fruit and vegetables, we will keep it longer, given the shorter time from harvest to consumption. To find out if it is better to store freshly purchased food in the refrigerator or at room temperature, just inquire at your greengrocer, keeping in mind that bananas and apples, if placed next to unripe fruits and vegetables, tend to make it ripen more quickly because of ethylene that emanate.
The refrigerator must be correctly functioning and its temperature must be checked periodically. To store the food inside it is necessary to follow the instructions of the manual and the indications of the different temperatures: fruit and vegetables must be placed at the bottom, preferably in the appropriate drawer where they can maintain adequate humidity; yogurt and milk should be placed in the highest shelves where the temperature is more constant. It is good practice to change the position of food according to the expiration date, moving in front of the most perishable and using them before the others.
When we realize that we can not consume in time what we have bought, we freeze the fresh food by packaging it in quantities suitable for its use: the vegetables can be minced and blanched or steamed, the fruit can be frozen as well ‘is. For foods that we want to keep in individual pieces, we can freeze on a baking sheet and then put them in reusable frostbags or, better still, in glass containers suitable for the freezer. Even the leftovers of the meal can be frozen in convenient single portions to be reused, for example, for our lunch at work.
If despite all the precautions some foods should be too ripe or bruised, do not throw them: we can take a cue from the many blogs and recipe books specifically created to reduce waste. When in doubt, let’s blend! From many vegetables no longer beautiful aesthetically, you can get beautiful velvety or fantastic soups, just cook for a long time with a rich vegetable broth and you’re done. And with fruit we can make a tasty regenerating smoothie.
The less noble parts of fruit and vegetables can be used in tasty alternative recipes: stalks and outer leaves of artichokes, carrots and onions peel, broad bean pods … and even cooking water! The blogger Lisa Casali for example, has written several books on the subject, demonstrating with delicious recipes that a kitchen without waste is possible and even fun. If then at this point we have advanced some scraps, we can use them to create our compost to fertilize the garden.
And you? Do you have any other strategy against food waste?
Written by non-native speaker: please excuse any mistake.