As the world population continues to increase, the demand for food and food security is increasing along with it. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations revealed in a report that food demand is likely to increase to 150-170% of the current demand by 2050. It also reports that approximately one-third of all the foods produced each year (which comes to about 1.3 billion tons of edible food) is lost and wasted, thereby leading to critical concerns about food and nutritional security.
A study in the journal Foods, published in 2019, points out that this food waste is also a huge cause of concern because of its environmental impact. Food waste decomposes faster, so when it’s thrown into landfills it has a higher methane and greenhouse gas yield. Food waste leads to nutritional and environmental stressors which can not only affect your health right now but also jeopardize the healthy existence of all life in the future.
Minimising food waste is, therefore, a goal everybody needs to commit to. The following are some steps you can take to reduce food waste at home and around yourself, which is the best way to contribute at a grassroots level and still make a difference.
1. Plan ahead: If you have a well-considered list of foods based on all the meals you’re likely to eat during the week and what you enjoy most, then it’s likely that you’ll know what you need well ahead of time and shop accordingly. Stick to this list to ensure that you only end up buying what you need and don’t stray into a situation where most of what you buy will go into the bin later.
2. Store correctly: Food spoilage is a leading cause of food waste, which makes properly storing the foods you’ve brought home from your latest supermarket trip vital. Knowing what goes where is half the trick here. For example, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc should never be refrigerated and eggs shouldn’t be kept in the fridge door. Store ethylene-sensitive foods like bananas, pears, tomatoes, avocados and green onions away from other fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Don’t be a snob: While getting fresh produce with dents, holes and insect marks is not good for your health, not picking up veggies and fruits because they don’t “look perfect” or “look ugly” is counterproductive. Flawless fruits and vegetables look good on still paintings, but when it comes to nutrition, parameters of freshness and nutrient-content matter more than looks.
4. Remove the clutter: If your refrigerator, pantry and kitchen shelves are too cluttered, it’s not only likely that you won’t find what you need, but also that you’ll forget what you already have. This can lead to foods going past the expiry date, spoiling or, worse still, getting infested with pests and insects. Take stock of all your stored foods at least once a week, assess your needs and shop accordingly.
5. Preserve what you can: If you’re worried about fresh produce going bad too quickly and leading to waste, you can always learn food preservation techniques which are very easy. Most fruits can be turned into jams using mild spices and veggies into pickles using vinegar and salt. Drying, fermenting, freezing and curing are all easy methods you can adopt to reduce food waste.
6. Save up: Leftovers from big meals can be turned into smaller meals and snacks the next day. Most vegetable and fruit skins, like those of potatoes, ginger, apples, beets, cucumbers, carrots and eggplants, can be turned into crisps or can be used to add flavour to other dishes. Saving the seeds of pumpkins, watermelon and other fruits can not only reduce waste but also ensure a free avenue of nutrition.
For more information, read our article on Healthy recipes.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.