Rapidly rising food prices could help motivate consumers to reduce food waste, experts say

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There’s a song sung in Tara Moreau’s Vancouver home when she, her two daughters, or her partner throw food away rather than eat it.

Its chorus? “A third of food is waste.”

Moreau, director of the UBC Botanical Garden, says that while it’s silly, it’s a reminder of just how serious food waste is.

“It means we can see it when we’re wasting food and recognize it,” she said.

The song of the Moreau family refers to raw data this shows that about a third of all food produced in the world is lost or thrown away every year. Waste has several consequences, including greenhouse gas emissions, as food breaks down in landfills. Up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste.

In Metro Vancouver, where Moreau and his family live, organic produce accounts for 25-30% of waste sent to landfilldepending on whether you live in a single-family or multi-family home.

Advocates of food waste reduction want consumers to choose one day a week when they cook with leftover food to reduce food waste. (Ben Nelms/Reuters)

Researchers, industry and politicians have worked to keep food out of landfills to help fight climate change and save money and resources. And now inflation can provide even more motivation not to waste food.

According to the National Zero Waste Council of Canada, the average Canadian household throws away about 140 kilograms of food per year, about 30% of which is vegetables, worth more than $1,300.

“Some research indicates that 50% of Canadians don’t realize how much money they can save by being more resourceful,” said Richard Swannell, who has worked on food waste since 2005 and is international director of the UK-based organization. United. WRAP.

In 2007, WRAP helped launch the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign, which has been adopted by dozens of countries around the world, including Canada.

Many jurisdictions around the world want to halve the amount of food sent to landfills by 2025 or 2030.

Swannell was one of many experts who spoke about food waste at Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference this week. They argued that encouraging consumers to change their behavior would not only help the environment, but also, now more than ever, their budget.

Inflation is driving up grocery bills at a rate not seen since 1981. The cost of edible fats and oils has risen nearly 28% over the past year.

“It can motivate people to say, ‘Hey, we can save a lot of money here and make our money grow, and we can do our part for the environment and reduce our impact,'” he said.

Hellman’s Swannell and Kristen Denega presented research in Vancouver that WRAP and the mayonnaise company did to show that, despite their concern for food waste, many people are still throwing away the same amount of food they did a year ago or more.

The goal was to highlight the problem and offer simple solutions for consumers to adopt to bring about meaningful change.

“Food waste has a negative impact on the planet, people and also your wallet,” Denega said. “A lot of times mayonnaise is used in leftovers, and we also want to do something to help consumers provide people with solutions that can really make a difference.”

The joint project recommends choosing a day of the week to cook with ingredients or leftovers and using a three-plus-one recipe technique where consumers choose a carbohydrate base, a commonly wasted vegetable or fruit, a source of protein , then what they call a “magic touch” of herbs, spices or sauce to harmonize the dish.

“People are intrinsically interested”

Toronto-based BEworks, a behavioral science firm, found through surveys of consumers asked to track food waste as part of the WRAP and Hellman project, that many were surprised by the amount of food they wasted.

“One of the challenges of food waste is making the invisible problem visible to people. It’s a sustainability issue in general,” said Angela Cooper, strategist at BEworks.

She said that with rising food prices, tackling food waste could reach more consumers, but cautions that the solutions need to be simple for people to adopt them in their daily lives.

“Tools that are personally relevant to them without taking a strong position that it’s going to help fight climate change, it’s going to save the environment, which some people might worry about,” she said. “People are inherently interested in many ways.”

Another tool consumers can use to reduce food waste is to take a “shelf” before they go shopping. This is a photo of the inside of a fridge or cabinet so consumers can avoid buying double what they already have.

Research by WRAP and Hellman’s claims that making these small changes could reduce household food waste by up to 30%.

September 29 was the International Food Loss and Waste Awareness Day.

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