Eat Your Wonky Vegetables Dept: Those rows of glossy, flawless apples you see at the store, it turns out, come at a grim cost: The U.S. and other developed countries waste up to 40% of their food, bringing total global food waste to a staggering 1.3 billion tons worth almost $400 billion, and wreaking environmental havoc with it. Cue fabulously sensible new campaigns to discount produce that’s “naturally imperfect,” creating an improbable win-win all around – for farmers, consumers, the planet and the feelings of uncomely vegetables alike.
According to a 2013 report, the production of food that’s not eaten because it’s not cute enough for grocery shelves devours an amount of water equal to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River. Most of the food waste is dumped in landfills, where it decomposes and releases over 3 billion tons of methane, a greenhouse gas. Globally, organic waste accounts for at least 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions; if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of emissions behind China and the U.S.
Enter Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer, which has launched the No Name Naturally Imperfect campaign, offering “ugly” – like the rest of us, less than perfect on the outside and just as divine on the inside – fruits and vegetables at a discount of up to 30%. They’ve started with apples and potatoes, and hope eventually to include most produce. The launch in Canada, which each year wastes over $31 billion worth of food, reflects growing international efforts to combat the obscenity of rich countries tossing enough food to feed most of the world’s estimated 870 million hungry people.
8 ways to save money and waste less food…
Work out what most of your meals will be for the week ahead – leave 1 or 2 days free to eat from the freezer in case your plans change. Check your cupboards, write a list, take it to the shops and stick to it. If you don’t have time, use your phone and take a snap of your fridge and cupboard before you rush out the door – no double buying!
More on portions and planning >
Check your dates and take control. The display-until and sell-by are only for the shops and not for us – ignore them and scribble them out at home. The Best-Before is all about quality – it’s at its best on this date but is perfectly safe to eat afterwards, providing it looks, smells and tastes ok. The Use-By is the important one – this will only ever be on foods that have a safety risk such as meat, fish and pre-prepared fruit and veg. Never eat after the use-by, but you can use and freeze the food right up to the use-by date. Freezing on day of purchase is just a myth. When you want to use it, defrost overnight in the fridge (or if needed quicker in the microwave) and use within 24 hours – cook till piping hot.
Download our date label infographic >
Do you usually make too much food? Get your portions just right using our perfect portion tool. If rice is your nemesis, weigh out what you need then pour into your favourite mug. Keep the mug near the cooker and then next time you won’t need to weigh it – just pour and go.
Try the perfect portions tool >
Store your food in the best way possible to keep it fresher for longer. Apples (and all other fruit other than bananas) go in the fridge, onions in a cool dark place, and store bread in the cupboard or freezer. If you buy them in packs, keep them in their original packaging to keep the moisture in and your fresh food crispy and fresh.
More storage advice >
Although there could be only one winner last Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, it was a different story at a pre Super Bowl event at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where we had a “souper” time partnering with Chowdafest to make their Feb. 2 chowder tasting competition a zero-waste event.
Now in its sixth year, Chowdafest brought together 28 award-winning chefs and restaurants offering samples of chowder and bisque to thousands of hungry football fans before they retired to watch the Super Bowl. Attendees sampled great food while restaurants had an opportunity to showcase their talents. This year, Sustainable America jumped into the soup to divert the event’s food waste to composting, instead of where it usually goes in Connecticut: to an incinerator. And perhaps the biggest win of all was that both the proceeds and a large amount of direct food donations went to the Connecticut Food Bank to help feed the hungry.
Sustainable America volunteer helps sort food waste During the event, volunteers from Sacred Heart University’s women’s volleyball team and the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club donned our signature Sustainable America foam fingers and construction hats and manned 11 waste stations. They were on hand throughout the event to direct patrons on how to sort their waste and offer information about composting.