Every year, millions of tons of fruits and vegetables are wasted globally. This has a significant impact on the environment, economy, and society. Food waste leads to unnecessary use of resources such as water, land, and energy, and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. It also results in economic losses for farmers, retailers, and consumers. In addition, food waste means that people go hungry when there is plenty of food available. Therefore, reducing fruits and vegetables wastage is crucial for creating a more sustainable and equitable food system.
To reduce fruits and vegetables wastage is by utilising food resources efficiently. This means using produce before it goes bad, storing it properly, and repurposing leftovers.
Below are some tips and techniques for reducing fruits and vegetables wastage:
Store produce properly: Proper storage of produce can extend its shelf life and prevent spoilage. Different types of fruits and vegetables require different storage conditions. For example, some fruits, such as apples and pears, release ethylene gas, which can cause other produce to ripen and spoil faster. Therefore, it's best to store them separately from other produce. On the other hand, some vegetables, such as onions and garlic, can sprout and spoil if stored in the refrigerator. Learning how to store produce properly can help us reduce wastage and save money.
Leafy greens: Leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and kale, should be stored in the refrigerator. To keep them fresh longer, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag with some air holes.
Berries: Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are delicate and prone to molding. Store them in the refrigerator, unwashed, in a single layer on a paper towel-lined tray. Wash them just before eating.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. They can lose flavor and texture if stored in the refrigerator. If you have ripe tomatoes that you can't eat right away, consider making a tomato sauce or soup to use them up.
Apples: Apples should be stored in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar. They release ethylene gas, which can cause other produce to ripen and spoil faster. Therefore, it's best to store them separately from other produce.
Carrots: Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place. To keep them fresh longer, remove the tops and store them in a plastic bag with some air holes.
Use leftovers creatively: Leftovers don't have to go to waste. We can use them creatively to make new meals and snacks. For example, leftover vegetables can be used to make soups, stews, stir-fries, or omelets. Overripe fruits can be used to make smoothies, baked goods, or jams. By using up our leftovers, we can reduce food waste and save money on groceries.
Roasted vegetable frittata: Use leftover roasted vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and onions, to make a delicious frittata for breakfast or brunch.
Vegetable soup: Use leftover vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and greens, to make a hearty and nutritious vegetable soup. Add some beans or lentils for extra protein.
Fruit smoothie: Use overripe fruits, such as bananas, berries, and mangoes, to make a refreshing and healthy smoothie. Add some yogurt, milk, or juice for extra creaminess.
Stir-fry: Use leftover vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms, to make a quick and flavorful stir-fry. Add some protein, such as tofu, chicken, or shrimp, and some sauce for extra flavor.
Fruit crumble: Use overripe fruits, such as apples, pears, and plums, to make a delicious fruit crumble for dessert. Mix them with some sugar, flour, and oats, and bake them in the oven.
Preserve produce: Preserving produce can extend its shelf life and reduce wastage. There are several ways to preserve produce, including freezing, canning, pickling, and drying. For example, we can freeze berries, vegetables, and herbs to use later in smoothies, soups, or sauces. We can also can or pickle vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, and green beans, to enjoy them year-round. Additionally, we can dry fruits, such as apples, apricots, and bananas, to make healthy snacks.
Freezing: Cut up fruits and vegetables, such as berries, bananas, and peppers, and freeze them in sealed plastic bags. Use them later for smoothies, sauces, or stir-fries.
Canning: Can tomatoes, peaches, or green beans to preserve them for the winter. Follow a canning recipe and use a water bath canner or pressure canner.
Pickling: Pickle cucumbers, carrots, or green beans to add some tangy flavor to your meals. Use a pickling recipe and can them in jars.
Drying: Dry fruits, such as apples, apricots, and figs, to make healthy snacks. Slice them thinly and dry them in a dehydrator or in the oven on a low heat setting.
Compost: Composting is a great way to reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for plants. When we compost food scraps, including fruits and vegetables, we divert them from landfills, where they would otherwise produce methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. Additionally, composting creates a natural fertiliser that can be used to nourish plants in our gardens and farms.
Fruit and vegetable scraps: Compost any fruit and vegetable scraps that you generate, such as apple cores, banana peels, carrot tops, and onion skins. You can also compost eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea leaves.
Garden waste: If you have a garden or access to a green space, you can compost garden waste, such as grass clippings, leaves, and branches. Just make sure to chop or shred the garden waste first, so that it decomposes faster.
Composting bins: You can compost fruits and vegetables in a composting bin, which can be purchased online or at a gardening store. These bins are designed to hold compost materials and allow for proper airflow and drainage. You can choose from different types of composting bins, such as tumblers, wire mesh bins, or wooden bins.
Worm composting: If you're interested in composting on a smaller scale, you can try worm composting, also known as vermicomposting. This involves using red worms to break down food scraps into nutrient-rich soil. Worm composting can be done indoors or outdoors, and requires a special type of bin called a worm bin.
Composting is an easy and effective way to reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for plants. By composting fruits and vegetables, we can reduce our impact on the environment, support healthy soil, and create a more sustainable food system.