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Reducing food waste

Food waste is a big problem in New Zealand. Every year Kiwis send approximately 122,547 tonnes of food to landfill, all of which could have been eaten. This is enough to feed the whole of Dunedin for two years.

Food is wasted at all stages of the supply chain, from what is prooduced on farms and in factories to the excess that supermarkets throw out. However, the largest proportion of food wasted in New Zealand comes from households. Food waste ends up in the tip, along with the rest of our rubbish. When food decomposes without oxygen in the landfill it releases methane which is a harmful greenhouse gas.  So wasting food is not only costing us money, it is also bad for the environment.

Why is it wasted?

There are two main reasons why we throw away food – we don’t eat leftovers and some food goes bad because it is not stored properly. The foods we waste the most are bread, leftovers, potatoes, apples, chicken and bananas.

So whats some easy things to do to reduce food waste?

  • Sort out storage. Bread should be kept in the fridge or freezer so it does not grow mould. Fruit should be kept int he fridge, with a small selection in a fruit bowl – just keep them away from bananas. Potatoes and onions should not be stored next to each other as they will both go off faster.
  • Keep your leftovers! You may not think it is worthwhile to keep the last few spoonfuls but it all adds up. Use your leftovers in your next meal, or freeze them until you have enough to make something larger, like a soup or stir-fry.
  • Use your freezer – almost everything can be frozen! Is there a great two-for-one special at the supermarket? Freeze the second item until you need it. And, if you find your fruit or vegetables tend to go bad before you can eat them, partially cook them and then store them in the freezer.
  • Learn the difference between use by and best before; Use by means the food is not safe to consume after this date. Best before means that you are able to eat the food after this date however it might not be at its best. If it looks ok, smells ok and tastes ok then it should be safe to eat.
  • Even if you do have to throw food out, consider having your own compost bin where you can put most of your food scraps. At the very least that means less food scraps are going into landfill – and it will be great for the garden too!

Love Food Hate Waste is a great website that offers tips and recipes to help reduce your food waste and save money. www.lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.