Food Trend – Zero Waste

Reducing our foodprint makes environmental and economic sense

As we make our way into 2017, it’s clear that the problem of food waste remains a prominent issue to those in the food production and hospitality industries as well as individuals looking for ways to reduce their personal foodprint. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, a staggering one-third of food produced worldwide is wasted. To address this mounting issue, tech startups, restaurants, and retail markets around the world are innovating ways to manage their waste.

In Ireland, FoodCloud is a new app that helps supermarkets and producers with surplus food connect with charities and service agencies such as soup kitchens and breakfast clubs. In England, the first-ever zero waste restaurant, Silo, is rising to prominence by using only whole, unprocessed ingredients sourced locally and recycling any packaging that comes through the door into placemats and other useful items. Wefood, a grocer in Denmark, exclusively sells surplus foods at reduced rates.

Closer to home, Upstreet Craft Brewing sends their brewing byproduct in the form of spent grain to local farmers who use it for animal feed. They’ve also worked with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, a food product development centre in Charlottetown, to develop recipes that would turn their spent grain into snack items. “We try to find sustainable business practices wherever we can. Sharing our used grain is a great way to reduce waste and support a local farmer,” says Mike Hogan, Upstreet’s head brewer and co-founder.

Spent grain from Upstreet is used to feed cattle, including the ones pictured above.

By adopting some simple practices and becoming aware of programs that can benefit our community and environment, we leave the world a better place. Visualize food as cash and you’ll be bound to keep more money in your wallet and put less food in the bin!

1. Shop smart, don’t use a recipe and don’t over plate. While this may seem like a no-brainer, mindfully shopping in the produce section, farmer’s market, or Bulk Barn (at the Charlottetown location you can bring your own containers), can drastically reduce your food waste. Turn dinnertime cooking into your own personal black box challenge by considering what you can do with what’s already in the fridge before running out for more groceries. Additionally, try portioning your servings on the lighter side to avoid potential waste and box up unplated portions for another meal.

2. Store your food correctly. Produce ripens at different times and temperatures. Some give off more ethylene, which will quicken the ripening time of other produce nearby. Keep your apples, pears, peaches, and plums away from your broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers to keep everything fresh. Make sure you’re storing tomatoes, onions, and berries at room temperature as refrigeration breaks down their cell structure and makes for an unpleasant texture. Store potatoes and onions in a cool, dry place but not too close together.

3. Remove packaging but don’t wash until you eat . Moisture is the enemy when it comes to the shelf life of a product, so be mindful to rinse your produce only before you’re ready to eat it to keep it fresh longer.

4. Volunteer with the PEI Food Exchange, PEI Food Share, or another community group. There are several groups across PEI doing impressive work to increase food security and reduce food waste simultaneously. The PEI Food Exchange, for example, works with local organic farmers to harvest crops that remain after the main harvest has been done – food that would otherwise have been plowed under. The group also receives produce from farmers at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market at the end of the day and delivers it to food agencies.

5. Ask your favourite grocers and restaurateurs what they are doing to reduce food waste. As consumers we hold a lot of power and just as we can voice our desire to have local beef at the meat counter or local produce on the menu, we can also let local businesses know that waste reduction efforts are an important consideration when choosing where we shop or dine.