Waste not, want not

Summer and the festive season often go hand-in-hand with entertaining, full fridges and an abundance of food for many of us.   

But an abundance of food often leads to waste, and during the recent National Nutrition Week we were challenged to ‘embrace your veg waste’ in a bid to curb Australia’s growing food wastage habit.

By thinking twice about what we do with the bits of vegetable not used in the main meal or enlisting those lonely vegetables waiting to be pulled from the bottom of the crisper, we can reduce the amount of money required for the weekly shop.

But reducing food waste won’t only save you money, it can also help save the planet.

OzHarvest, one of Australia’s leading food rescue organisations said Australia has some alarming statistics when it comes to food waste each year:

  • More than 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill in Australia – that’s 40% of all food grown in Australia being wasted
  • More than a third of the average Australian household rubbish is food waste – the equivalent of nearly $4000 worth of groceries each year
  • Food waste costs the Australia economy $20 billion a year
  • Food waste harms the environment by emitting harmful greenhouse gases such as methane

Connect Health & Community, Program Manager, Jean Magar, said that by wasting food, we’re not only wasting money and precious resources, but we may also be cheating ourselves out of daily nutritional requirements.

“Not enough Australians are eating the recommended five serves of vegetables a day, with only four per cent of Australian adults eating sufficient enough fruit and veg,” she said.

“But it really is easy to improve our nutritional intake, and by embracing the green and leafy in our diets, we can also help reduce waste and save money,” she said.

Ms Magar said there are 5 simple ways to make the most of our vegetables:

  • Use all parts of the vegetable (where possible) including skins, stalks and leaves;
  • If vegies are getting a bit sad or old, use them in a baked dishes, like soups, quiches, frittatas, muffins, slices or vegie bakes;
  • Freeze leftover herbs if you know you won’t be using them in the next few days;
  • Look out for ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables now available at supermarkets and grocers, they are just as nutritious, often cheaper and you’ll save them from landfill; and
  • Regrow your food. Many foods can be regrown by placing them in water, including carrot tops, celery, fennel, leeks, onions, lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, some herbs and avocado.

Ms Magar said you can also help avoid food waste by:

- Buying food in season.  The quality is often better and the price, significantly cheaper.

- Buying only what you need.  Have an idea of what you will be making for the week ahead and check what you have at home before you shop.

- Try composting.  If you live in an apartment or can’t compost at home, many councils and other organisations will now take your food scraps.  Find your local drop off point https://sharewaste.com/share-waste

Connect Health & Community dietitians can help you address any diet-related issues in your life.  Call us today on 03) 9575 5333.

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