“Prevention is better than cure.”
Remember when your parents used to say that all the time, no matter if it was to take your vitamins so you don’t fall sick, or to slather on sunscreen so you don’t get a burn from playing under the hot sun? Well, that saying is probably one of the wisest and most versatile ones we know.
We’ve been talking about food wastage being at a record high for a while now, and we definitely think that the saying is applicable to the situation at hand. Instead of relying on efforts to recycle waste, reducing and lessening waste should be our first course of action. Prevention!
Know Where Your Food Comes From
Ask kids these days where do chickens come from and they would say the supermarket. Consumers today only know of their food as the pre-packaged ones conveniently available at grocery stores.
With convenience comes mindlessness – because food is so readily available, consumers will not hesitate to throw away leftovers or food that doesn’t look ‘pretty’ enough, thinking that they can always go to the supermarket five minutes away to get more.
Knowing where your food comes from plays a big role in preventing food wastage. Farmers of cattle, vegetables and fruits work hard and go through several arduous processes to produce food that is edible and healthy for everyone. Even something as little as a cup of fresh vegetables takes a long growing process and the tender loving care of farmers.
The Farm to Fork Process
Likewise, besides knowing where your food comes from, consumers should also have at least a general idea of how the food got from farms to their plates. As if the farming process isn’t energy-consuming enough, the procedures that follow the growing stage is just as crucial in ensuring that food is made available for consumption everywhere in the world.
There are millions of people and machines that work behind the scenes to help put food on your table. These unsung heroes work day and night to ensure that food is kept fresh, stored properly, packaged nicely and sent out to stores that are convenient for you.
It is estimated that from growing to harvesting, and from processing to packaging and even storing, your food has not only been handled by many hands, but by real people who put in their time and effort to bring that food to you.
Once consumers take an active role in finding out how and where their food comes from, we believe that food will then be better appreciated, lowering the rate of food wastage.
Storing Food Knowledgeably
Storing food properly ensures that your groceries can be kept and used for the maximum amount of time. Keeping your fridge and kitchen clean, well-organized and bright also helps.
Use the AVA Food Storage Guide to help you determine where, how to, and how long to store your groceries for maximum freshness.
Busting ‘— By’ Labels
It is estimated that at least 20% of food wastage is due to consumer’s confusion of labels such as “Expires on’, ‘Sell by’, ‘Use by’, “Best before’ and ‘Best by’ dates. Do not simply throw your food away after those dates!
It is clearly stated by most governing bodies that these labels and dates are merely manufacturer suggestions for peak quality of the food. As the word ‘suggestions’ imply, it is as best a guess for manufacturers as it is for all you consumers.
‘Sell by’ labels are suggested dates for stores to keep/remove the products from their shelves to ensure the freshness of the food they sell so that consumers can still take it home and store it for days or weeks. Stores that do not finish selling the products by the dates usually pull them from the shelves. While most tend to discard them, which is utter wastage of perfectly good food, donating them to charity is the way to go.
All other labels are dates whereby the food is predicted to not retain their normal nature or quality after. Whilst it may be difficult for manufacturers to predict these dates accurately depending on how you store your food, we’d much rather consumers ‘trust their guts’ and use their senses to best determine when to throw food out.
Images from cbc.ca, earthcare.us, foodtechconnect.com, cleangreensimple.com, eatyourbooks.com