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Ever go to grab a cucumber to add to your peanut butter sandwich (it’s actually delicious), and instead of that crisp and fresh cuke you had a couple of days ago, you discover that it’s turned to mush? Your finger sinks right in, you recoil, gag a little, and throw it away.
Well, you’re not the only one throwing out food. We all do it. A lot. According to a new study commissioned by KitchenAid, Canadians throw away about $2.5 billion worth of food each year, averaging around $191 annually per household.
Bananas, tomatoes, lettuce and grapes most often get the boot. And even though Vancouver now provides composting service for house-dwellers (sorry apartment folk), more food ends up in the trash than it should.
When one starts to consider that those bananas traveled all the way from Central America only to end up as a pile of fruit-fly ridden mush that will spend decades seeping out of a tied up plastic bag, one can get fairly overwhelmed at the absurdness of it all.
The problem is actually world wide, and it’s even worse on a global scale. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 30-50 per cent of all food produced is not eaten. Half! The reasons vary, from improper storage and inefficient distribution channels, to our fussiness over slightly bruised or misshapen fruit.
KitchenAid found that at least we feel bad about our wasteful habits, with 90 per cent of Canadians feeling guilt when we throw away 10 per cent of the food we buy.
So, what are some solutions? The article from the Vancouver Sun offers some good tips like freezing almost turned produce to use later in smoothies, and storing things so they can have a maximum shelf life. Meal planning helps and finding new ways to be creative with ingredients will also reduce food waste.
But perhaps most importantly, it’s restoring a sense of gratitude for food. We are so lucky to have the access we do but complacency and bad habits might come back to haunt us.
Elecia Chrunik is Megaphone's resident food security blogger. For more food security news, you can follow her on Twitter @Elecia_C.