We Have a Food Waste Situation – Part Two

This is the article I wrote for ‘The Beacon’ magazine, Issue #21

By Ewa Bekiesch – Permaculture Designer and Sustainable Living Consultant

Food waste is a huge topic. As mentioned in the last issue #20 (thebeacon.com.au),the average Australian household sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week (foodbank.org.au) Home composting is a great way to decrease the numbers but even composting should be always the last resort. Knowing what to do with unwanted food is an important skill. Reducing food waste will save you lots of money and contribute to a sustainable future.

Think more – buy less. Make shopping list and go grocery shopping less often. If you don’t have the one ingredient you need today to cook the meal you wanted, leave it out this time, if possible (and put it on your shopping list for next time) or invent a completely new dish from the ingredients you do have. Check your fridge and pantry. Use the food you have before the expiry date. Understand “best before” and “use by” terms as “You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date” (foodstandards.gov.au)
Invent new dishes from left-overs. For example, you can make a hearty and delicious soup from last night’s BBQ left-overs (I’m assuming you kept it in the fridge!) Or the Christmas Ham left-overs can be used in so many different ways! On pizza, in a pasta sauce, with crumbled eggs or omelet and so on. I could give you countless examples. Be adventures in the kitchen! Also, cooking for two days in advance can save you time and money.
Store food correctly. Buying in bulk is very often the most economical way of grocery shopping. Correct storage is very important. Air-tight containers like used jars, cleaned thoroughly, is a sustainable way to store dry food. Freezing suitable food and left-overs is another great way of storing food. If you think about it, “On average, we Australians throw one in five shopping bags of food in the bin – that’s about $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year.”(foodbank.org.au). It comes cheaper to buy a freezer and additional fridge if you ask me! Keeping your cooked dishes in a fridge for the next day is essential.
Preserve food. Jams, pickles, fermented food, cordials, frozen, canned, dried. Do you grow your own food or have you been gifted with food? There are so many simple and easy to follow ways of preserving food and turning it into healthy and super delicious treats. I always have clean jars in the cupboard and basic ingredients like sugar, vinegar and spices to make all sorts of preserves. When you get organised, it takes less time to make your own than going to the shops to buy it. Rosella, Passionfruit or Orange jam, pickled or fermented vegetables, your own tea and more. Check my blog for some inspiration.
Share and Swap. I love sharing and swapping food. Check with your family, friends and neighbors when you have more than you can eat. Join our swap group on Facebook “Garden Food Swap Howard and Surrounds” or the discussion board on my page. Enjoy giving and receiving!
Home composting. All kitchen and garden scraps can be composted and turned into great soil improver for your garden. Compare and choose the right system to make the best out of it.

References:
Food Bank, Food Waste Facts, https://www.foodbank.org.au/food-waste-facts-in-australia/?state=qld, Viewed on the 31 May 2021
Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Use by and best before dates, December 2015, https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/dates/Pages/default.aspx

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