I am ashamed to say British Columbia tops the list of produce purchasers we also top the list of produce wasters. We spend on average $43.90 a week on fresh fruits and vegetables and we toss about 11% of them.
The most frequently wasted items are lettuce, bananas, tomatoes, grapes and celery.
I am guilty. I buy lettuce and don’t use it all. Cilantro is another big one for me. I love it and buy it often but only end up using a bit and the rest is composted. Lemons and limes bought by the large bag at Costco are cheaper than buying 4 or 5 at the grocery store but I often can’t use 20 lemons up. I have since heard about freezing them whole and then just grating them to get what you need for a recipe.
Bananas of course can be frozen and used for baking or smoothies. Who doesn’t have a stash of these blackened beauties in their freezers?I do have an issue with onions. The onions used to last for months in my bin staying firm and clean. We eat them every day in some form and buy them by the large bag. A week later they are often all soft and rotten inside and they just don’t keep. It must be the varieties that growers are using now. This one isn’t my fault!Same with the strawberries….not my fault. They barely last 24 hours even in the fridge. Here is a list of tips from the Vancouver Sun newspaper on storage of produce. My big tip for vegetables though is to make a pot of soup with all the vegetables left over at the end of the week. If I can save just one potato then my work here is done!
1. Buy only what you need and will eat. Don’t get sucked in by sales. (Will you really eat three watermelons?) Shop more frequently and plan meals.
2. Eat the most delicate produce first: leafy greens before longer-lasting zucchini.
3. Lots of fruits and vegetables are big emitters of ethylene gas, which speeds up ripening in nearby produce unless stored separately in plastic bags or containers. Apples, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, for instance, kept unwrapped near spinach and kale, will ruin the greens within days.
4. Some industrial fridges feature ethylene gas absorbers that slow ripening. Small household ethylene absorbers are available in many produce sections. They are generally a plastic ball or egg containing a packet that soaks up ethylene over a period of months before it has to be replaced.
5. Washing fruit and vegetables — particularly fragile berries or greens — hastens spoilage. Wash them just before you use them. But putting a damp cloth or paper towel in a bag of greens can help keep it fresh.
6. Don’t store bananas, onions, baking potatoes, tomatoes or garlic in the fridge. Put them in a cool, dark cupboard instead. For stone fruits, like nectarines and apricots, store them in the fridge if they’re ripe but on the counter if they’re still hard.
7. Store herbs like parsley and cilantro upright with the stalks in a container of water.
8. Reduce waste by freezing produce before it spoils. Fruit can be used in smoothies. Make sauces from vegetables.
9. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says food can be eaten after its “best before” date, which indicates the amount of time an unopened package will maintain its optimum quality. “Best before” dates are not indicators of food safety, either before nor after the date, according to CFIA’s website.