Wednesday 20 August 2008

Food Wastage.

- Australians are still wasting $6 billion of food each year - enough to feed the entire nation for three weeks. - Current research suggests the majority of food thrown away is fresh fruit and vegetables. - Meat, fish, bread, dairy produce, rice and pasta are all in the ‘top’ most wasted foods. - The two main reasons for food wastage is that people ‘cook or prepare too much’ or ‘don’t use food before its use-by date’. - A 2005 study by The Australia Institute estimated that food waste was costing Australians $5.3 billion per year. - The Australian 2006 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory report stated methane emissions from solid waste disposal on land were equivalent to 13.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. - According to CSIRO data, dumping a kilogram of beef wastes the 50,000 litres of water it took to produce that meat; throwing out a kilogram of white rice will waste 2,385 litres and wasting a kilogram of potatoes costs 500 litres.

“Australians throw away food because we forget about it,” says Jon Dee, environmentalist and founder of Planet Ark. “We leave it lingering in the depths of our fridges and cupboards, unused and unloved. When we do use it, we use too much and even then we don’t use the leftovers.” “It’s an approach to food that anathema to older generations. Their cooking of leftovers was the earliest form of recycling. They used up every scrap of food, because they valued it. Today that attitude has changed but it’s vital that we change it back.” “When food waste rots in landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than the CO2 pouring out of your car’s exhaust,” explains Jon. “If we don’t mend our wasteful ways, we’ll be eating ourselves out of an environment that can sustainably support future generations of Australians.”

I put my hand up. I'm guilty. I throw away those too-brown bananas when I probably should make banana cake. But the equivalent of 1 bag out of 5?? And here I was feeling all holier-than-thou because at least I compost them!!! Or feed the left overs to the pups.

That's madness!! Ethically AND financially!

Statistics show Sydneysiders are the worst food waste offenders, with some bins containing nearly 50 percent food. Victorians and South Australians are throwing out approximately 40 percent and in the ACT, a November 2007 study found that homes were throwing out 4.2 kilograms of food every week – up from 3.7 kilograms in 2004.

I am going to have a good hard look at my food wastage, in the light of these CSIRO stats and report back.

What are YOU doing to minimise your food wastage?

ED TO ADD: The best suggestions of how to minimise food wastage posted here as comments, may be published on The Notebook website next month and will be eligible to win a prize!

Get commenting!


Anonymous said...

Hi PG. I saw those figures too and was aghast. I have trouble filling one supermarket-plastic-bag with rubbish each week, yet my neighbours' bin is always overflowing (and they're just two people).

Perhaps some people don't freeze leftovers or part-portions, either because they have teency freezers or they don't know what to do with it.

I found out from Sarah (Sarah Cooks) that freezing bananas is a good emergency measure (cos I, too, always have bananas in need of action).

purple goddess said...

Freezing narnies?

Wow.. what a good idea! Do you just whack them in a ziploc bag. Peeled? Unpeeled?

I need to know more!

Agnes said...

Those figures are scary!

Re the reducing food wastage thing, this year I did an inventory of my pantry and my freezer. Now I have lists stuck on my fridge, so I know what I have. When I use something, it gets crossed off my inventory list and added to a shopping list. I used to constantly buy stuff, not realising that I already had it, so this has helped me only buy things that I need, which means that I don't waste things!

Although I do admit that I occasionally throw out fruit and veg. I try not to though - I try and make soup with veg that is looking a bit sad, or use up fruit in baking.

By the way, with the bananas, just put them in the freezer unpeeled. They go all black, but once defrosted they're fine to use for banana cake.

Vida said...

PG, I put my bananas in whole then I don't need a bag... they are best "black" for banana cake - don't for get smoothies for ripe bananas too... Now that I am in an apartment with a flight of stairs to carry things up, I just buy one or two bananas, cannot be bothered to carry them up in a shopping bag only to carry them back down in a rubbish bag!!!!! V x

purple goddess said...

I do the veggie soup thing, for anything looking a bit past its prime. And freeze it for stock, or for hungry boys after footy.

Having two dogs and five hungry kids means that I don't actually have a lot of food to throw out, possibly the occasional tub of yoghurt that has been pushed to the back of the 'fridge and let to go mouldy, and I am uber creative with left overs.

thanh7580 said...

I too have to admit that I waste some food. It's when you use half a packet of something and then don't need the rest for a particular recipe. I guess I should eat it, but I don't like some ingredients by themselves, like buttermilk for example. I make cakes with it, but once I make the cake, I have no other use for it afterwards with the leftover bit.

Agnes, your idea to put a list is so simple but pure genius. I'm going to implement that tonight. I find that I never know whats in the pantry and sometimes buy more even when I have it already.

Dibs said...

I come from a culture where each meal had to be cooked fresh - Breafast, Lunch, Tea, and Dinner! My moms and grandmoms, and their moms, did nothing but cook their entire life! It also meant going to the market every single day to buy the ingreditents!!! The good part was that they had mastered cooking just the right amount, and there were no left overs!

Completely impractical these days of course - with work and hectic lifestyles! I landed up throwing out a whole pack of pita bread yesterday since it went mouldy, and felt terrible! :-(

It went bad despite keeping it in the fridge. Perhaps I will freeze it next time!

purple goddess said...


do you compost?

Things like pita bread (which never goes mouldy in our house, but DOES get freezer burnt)goes into the compost... or to the dawgs.

Sticky's got a great post at SOLE Mama's about her worm farm, too.

Not that composting means I am throwing out less, I just get to feel slightly better about it!

Gill Stannard Naturopath said...

I love this thread!

I popped by to tell you that I have linked the sole mama forum on a post I've written about shoppping. Hope that sends you a bit more traffic.

RE bananas: I peel them and freeze in a ziploc bag (usually a recycled one that some kind of food's come in) and pop one out as needed for a smoothie.

Have lost the backyard space for a compost and replaced it with a worm farm (got on freecycle) which is fantastic.

dixiebelle said...

I hate waste! I can recycle just about any food!

Leftover roast vege's?
Think Roast vege tacos or Roast vege soup

Leftover pasta? Freeze, or make a pasta bake.

Leftover stir fry? Make samosas!

dixiebelle said...

Oh, and meal planning is the way to go...

dixiebelle said...

Sorry, more from me! Use those frozen bananas and miscellaneous yoghurt tubs to make a smoothie, or there is a recipe for Banana Cake with yoghurt in it, on my blog!

We either eat leftovers for lunch the next day... or freeze, and use them on a night when I'd rather not be cooking. All sorts of things freeze and defrost OK!

Ran said...

leftover cooked food is not usually an issue at my place - i cook in bulk and freeze it anyway. and like others, make soup or stew or curries out of sad looking vegies

i find the biggest problems are yoghurt tubs, milk, cream and other perishable dairy stuff i forget about or dont eat all the time. i have started buying much less of this stuff, but stilll feel bad if i have to throw it out. at least we have a compost bin but it is still waste.

Griffin said...

Definitely use leftovers and the like for second meals thanks to training by me mum as a kid and teen.

Now in my forties, it's second nature. Also use a lot of veg as it's a) good for you and b) if you have to throw it you can compost it.