Waste Not: On Food Waste Management & Fighting Hunger
Today I want to write about something we’re all guilty of. Something that is unnecessary, completely avoidable, and really shameful given that, according to World Food Program, 805 million people go to bed hungry every day.
Food waste. My biggest waste bugbear (closely followed by throw-away ‘fashion’, but that’s a topic for another discussion). The topic is deeply touching for me, yet I was struggling with how to start this post without sounding too judgmental, hypocritical or insincere.
Reality of life is, excessive farming and fast food has made food disposable in many countries. It’s cheap to buy and easy to throw out without giving it a second thought. Statistics on food waste are quite scary. Look around, and I’m sure you will see it both in your own kitchen, and casually mentioned all around in your social circle.
Bottom line is, food waste is tough on the planet, both while being intensely grown, and while filling the landfills. Tough on traditionally grown crops, which are being heavily fertilised with chemicals in order to look plump and perfect. Tough on the soil and our health because of all the overlooked usage of pesticides. Tough on consciousness, as people are starving to death while you throw out half of a perfect meal just because it was too big, and, if bigger picture seems too difficult to grasp, it’s tough on your wallet!
Let’s not despair though; reducing your food waste is actually really easy once you decide to do it. Here are the steps I take to keep mine to a minimum. I know it’s been all said and done before, but no harm repeating the good things, don’t you agree?
1) Don’t buy too much food in the first place. Pick up any fresh produce needed during the week, and store only your basic ingredients in the fridge.
2) Have a plan of what you’d want to cook and eat during the week. No need to keep this rigid and strict, but at least do have a look at what food you already have in the fridge and cupboards, and decide what you could make out of it, and what you need to add to the shopping list.
3) Remember that ‘best before’ is only a suggestion. Please please please use your judgement before you decide to throw something out just because best before date has passed, especially if the package hasn’t been opened and air didn’t get a chance to get to whatever is inside.
4) Reduce scraps to a minimum. Think if you need to peel that particular vegetable at all, or will good scrubbing do? At home, we eat skin-on fries for example.
5) Find ways to use your food ‘waste’. It is really exciting to use some leftovers as snacks. Here are some ideas:
– Potato skins as chips: Scrub the skins before peeling, then toss them with a bit of oil and seasoning and crisper them up at high heat in the oven. So easy, and usually done in less than 10 minutes, so we have them as a snack while the main meal is cooking.
– Got few tomatoes, some drying up mushrooms and a handful of spinach? Just chop and sauté any lose vegetable ends, pile them on the bed of grains or crack few eggs on top, and you got yourself a nourishing meal.
– Make soups: Another way of using up bits and ends of vegetables, or any vegetables that are looking past their finest. Blend it all up once cooked, and voila, soup that looks and tastes exactly like it would if you’d use the freshest just-bought vegetables.
– Freeze whatever leftovers you have, including stock.
– Speaking of stock, what an amazing way to use up any bones and meat scraps! No roast chicken ever happens without carcass being used for delicious stock.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a particularly right way to reduce food waste. So clean that plate, like your mum told you, because mum is always right!
& if you would like to take your efforts to the next level, please consider joining or supporting one of my favourite initiatives here in Beirut, FoodBlessed, run by hunger heroes who’s made it their mission to help reduce food waste and fight hunger by cooking amazing meals using leftovers, and then serving them to the poor and homeless.
I had a blast helping them chop and peel vegetables during the Beirut Street Food Festival that took place in Monot street last weekend. We created 3 amazing soups: tomato Soup, a green soup, and a brocolli and potato soup, rescuing 400 Kg of veggies and some fruits, in addition to 40 Kg of bread!
View the full photo album of the Disco Soup event here.
Are you guilty of throwing away food as well? & what are your food waste management tips? Share with us your insights on the topic in the comments below.