How to manage food waste and get the most value from your grocery purchases this Thanksgiving
By the Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Did you know that food waste has a large financial cost that extends throughout the food chain? In 2014, an international team of researchers estimated that the financial value of food that was unused or discarded by retailers and consumers in Canada came up to $31 billion. If we factored all the water, energy and resources that went into producing that wasted food, the figure balloons up to almost three times that size.
This Thanksgiving, while we’re sure everyone will make a valiant effort to stuff themselves with as much food as possible, we’d like to offer consumers some tips to reduce food waste around the holidays:
Estimate your guests' food consumption
Everyone has that relative that can shovel an unrealistic amount of food into themselves, but the usual recommendations for food consumption is one pound of turkey per person, with a ½ cup per person for the side dishes.
Know how long your food lasts and plan for leftovers
No matter what, you’re going to have leftovers. Plan for it and eat a turkey-centric diet for the rest of the week. Make a meal plan of potential leftovers by figuring out what will spoil first. For example, turkey tends to stay good in the fridge for three to four days, but several months if frozen. And check out these awesome leftover recipes, courtesy of Turkey Farmers of Canada.
Tell your guests what to bring
You don’t want to end up with five bowls of mashed potatoes, so make sure everyone brings something unique. If you plan on doing everything yourself, just tell your guests to bring some containers for leftovers!
Don’t put too much faith in expiration dates
There are two kinds of dates on packaging, but the one consumers are most likely to see isn’t actually an expiry date, but a “Best before” date. If your packaging has a best before date, that has nothing to do with food safety, it is only referring the best time for taste and freshness. It is perfectly fine to eat food after the best before date. The only real judge for whether something has gone bad is the sight and smell test. If you make an ugly face after seeing or smelling the product, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Read more about food labels on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's web site, which has helpful information for consumers.
Don’t be afraid of misshapen fruits and vegetables
In North America, over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets because they aren't attractive enough for consumers. While a misshapen strawberry and potato may look off, isn’t it the beauty inside that counts? Misshapen fruits and veggies are much more likely to not get picked up at the market, even though they have all the same taste and nutrition that the normal looking products provide. End the discrimination, pick up a weird tomato today.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture supports any method to curb food waste and we believe that the only way to really significantly reduce food waste is to bring the issue into a broader Canadian food strategy that can provide a vision for the future of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption in Canada. Be sure to check out our National Food Strategy, a framework to help secure the future of food in Canada.