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PUTTING FOOD WASTE
ON THE FRONT BURNER

When food is wasted, the agricultural resources of water and soil used to produce the food, as well as the energy to transport it, are also lost. In landfill, this waste is a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases. North Americans trash over $27 billion worth of food a year and studies also reveal that approximately 35% of food produced is wasted through spoilage in grocery stores, excess production at food processors or in restaurants, careless handling, and during consumption. Just digest the image of overflowing garbage containers at celebrations, sports events and in hospitals. Jonathan Bloom tackled the issue in 2010 by authoring ‘American Wasteland - How America Throws Away Nearly Half of its Food (and what can we do about it)’ where he traces food waste through all steps of the supply chain.

Restaurants are major culprits when it comes to food waste. Even a small scale diner, where the chef sends his produce trimmings to a local pig farm, there can be up to 6 large garbage bags filled a day with uneaten food and disposable cups and straws. For the most part, restaurant owners want to please customers with a heaping plate of food. But there are solutions. Master chef Jean-Pierre Challet of Toronto’s acclaimed Ici Bistro, offers meals and wine in two portion sizes allowing diners to order according to their own appetites.

Leftovers often make the best meals. There are many creative recipes that focus on unique casseroles, soups and salads created from leftovers. During the 1980’s, makers of GLAD kitchen bags, published the Use-it-Up Cookbook. Unlike regular cookbooks, the 190 page gem categorized various foods and listed the many ways to use them up. Sour cream, for example, is bought for either a recipe or chip dip. But when you have some leftover, it often sits at the back of the fridge gathering mould. Here are a few of the book’s suggestions for dairy sour cream.

• Add to scrambled eggs (2 teaspoons per egg) just before eggs have completely set.

• Add 1 – 3 teaspoons of sour cream to cottage cheese before serving.

• For a salad dressing, blend sour cream with herbed salad dressing to taste. Add chopped green onions. Serve over salad greens, pour over hot cooked vegetables or use as a topping on cold vegetable platters.

• Spoon a dollop of sour cream on top of hot soup for a cooling garnish.

Our food system cannot be fixed overnight; however, we can all change our habits. You can take stock before shopping, plan weekly meals, serve smaller portions and be creative with leftovers. Before composting food scraps, try simmering vegetable tops and peels to make a soup broth. Engage children so they too can be part of the solution. When eating out, take your own doggie bag container or request a discount by ordering a smaller portion.

Grocery shop wisely! Embrace leftovers! Keep the environment in mind when eating out! Compost!

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Written by: Larraine Roulston, Castle Compost


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