Consider this: nearly 821 million people worldwide don’t have access to enough food, while a third of all the food produced around the world goes to waste. To say these statistics are unacceptable would be an understatement. But what exactly is food waste? It’s defined as produce ‘of good quality fit for consumption’, but ‘doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded’. Take peculiar-looking or misshapen fruit and vegetables.
Between 20% and 40% of produce that has an unusual shape or size, or that’s marked or discoloured, is thrown away before it even leaves the farm because it doesn’t meet the market’s aesthetic standards – and that’s exactly where EroeGo steps in. The first start-up dedicated to fighting food waste in the UAE, EroeGo is impact-driven, providing meals to two people facing hunger for every box sold while allowing its customers to purchase fruits and vegetables discarded by producers at a discount. A win-win, essentially. Here, the experts at EroeGo share a handful of tips and tricks to reduce food waste at home.
1. The Date Update
There are many different food waste solutions, and simply knowing the difference between the ‘sell by’, ‘best before’, and ‘use by’ dates is one of the easiest. These dates are used by companies to let us know when it’s likely that food will go bad, but they’re often still confusing for consumers. The ‘sell by’ date is used to inform retailers when they should take the item off their shelves. Meanwhile, the ‘best before’ is about quality, and the ‘use by’ is about safety. Make a point of buying items that are close to their ‘best before’ dates – they’re perfectly safe to eat, they’re usually cheaper to buy, and it’ll stop them from being discarded.
2. In a Jam
If you have some very ripe stone fruits lying around, they’re really easy to turn into a scrumptious homemade jam – and it’s not as daunting as it sounds. By simply adding sugar and a little bit of lemon juice, you’ve got the recipe for a winning preserve that’s perfect on pancakes, stuffed into French toast, or just enjoyed with a dollop of natural yoghurt. You can even use both the flesh and the skin here. The stone will have to be taken out, but to avoid creating food waste, it can always be added to the compost heap. For even less waste, reuse one of the glass jars that you already have in your cupboard for storage.
3. Drink Up
It doesn’t matter how overripe fruit looks – as long as they still taste good, they’ll work perfectly in a smoothie. And even if you don’t fancy one right now, you can still chop the fruit and freeze it in a ziplock bag until you’re ready for one. When you come to actually whipping up your delicious drink, it’s so simple to just throw the frozen fruit into the blender with some yoghurt and other fruits or vegetables. Not a smoothie fan? Opt for flavoured water. As fruit gets older, it usually gets an intense sweetness, so just chop up your orange, pineapple, or strawberries and add it to a jug of water for a more exciting way to stay hydrated. Bonus: if you leave it in the fridge overnight, it’ll infuse with an even stronger flavour.
4. One Man’s Treasure
Compost just refers to the natural decaying of organic matter. When you throw scraps on a big compost pile, it all naturally breaks down into a nutrient-rich fertiliser that’s great for your garden. There’s a huge range of stuff you can put on there – from banana skins, apple cores, and avocado pits to leftover bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. You have to be careful with some items, though. You shouldn’t add anything oily or greasy, nor any animal products (think: milk, meat, butter, and cheese). Having a compost heap in your garden is a really great way to reduce food waste because any fruit or vegetable peels you may have, or any groceries that have gone bad, can be converted into something naturally beneficial.
5. A Family Affair
Get the kids on board, too – it can make the whole process a lot more fun. In fact, getting the whole family involved could end up being your greatest food waste solution yet. Because kids love getting creative in the kitchen, why not get them to help you cook up more tasty treats that’ll use up even more fruits and vegetables? From putting overripe berries in muffins to making crisps out of leftover vegetables and baking old apples into a crumble, there are plenty of recipes around that they will love. Not only is it a great way to help them get their five-a-day, but it’s also a good way to use food that might otherwise end up in the bin.
6. Taking Stock
Making homemade stock is one of the many small things we all can do to help prevent food waste, especially if you’re looking for a way to use up peels and scraps. Not only will you really be getting the most out of your groceries, but it’ll also help you out – stock always comes in useful for cooking. It’s easy to do, too. Just keep your vegetable trimmings aside during the week. As you’re cooking, wash those leftover bits, cut scraps into smaller and more manageable chunks, and put them into an airtight container or ziplock bag along with any peels you’ve saved. Once you’ve saved up one ziplock bag full, you’re ready to make stock. It will last for about one week in the fridge, or up to six months in the freezer.