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Jul 17, 2013

WASTING AWAY– DO YOU USE ALL YOUR PRODUCE?

There was a study done (don’t you love studies) on how much each province spends on fresh produce each week.
IMG_0410

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. IMG_0227Lemons 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?IMG_0318I 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!IMG_0509Same with the strawberries….not my fault. They barely last 24 hours even in the fridge. IMG_0319Here 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.

pineapple

10 comments:

Fran Ellsworth said...

Good points. I agree on the onions, strawberries, and watermelons are like than now too.

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Very helpful post. I really liked the idea of making soup at the end of the week.

I freeze all kinds of leftover fruits and use them all in my smoothies. Another great idea for using up a lot of veggies is to get a juicer and make juice with them.

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Ok, what is that in the first pic? Don't think I've ever seen one in Philly... Good tips, unfortunately I'm guilty of wasting produce too:@)

Jackie said...

I have never frozen a banana; I've never thought about it. :))
And...making soup is the way I keep from wasting not only veggies, but leftovers as well. A great idea!!
Hugs to you,
Jackie

Peg said...

Thanks for the tips - so helpful!

Lynn said...

Hey, Lori. I also make soup with left over veggies or a pot pie. As for left over fruit, ironically it goes into an “interesting” green salad on the night before I hit the farmers market the next morning. I didn’t knows half of what was on your list of freezing whole. Great post!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

One of the problems with onions these days is that the growers store them in cool storage over long periods of time and so they come to the stores are a very old age - thus they can spoil so quickly in our homes - plus they have basically been in a refrigerator for sometimes almost a year, so bringing them out in the regular temperatures also makes they go bad faster. I am so happy when the farm markets have fresh onions that last for a long time - though we tend to eat them up faster when they are fresher and have better taste.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

One of the problems with onions these days is that the growers store them in cool storage over long periods of time and so they come to the stores are a very old age - thus they can spoil so quickly in our homes - plus they have basically been in a refrigerator for sometimes almost a year, so bringing them out in the regular temperatures also makes they go bad faster. I am so happy when the farm markets have fresh onions that last for a long time - though we tend to eat them up faster when they are fresher and have better taste.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

A great and very interesting series of tips.

I feel for the cilantro...seems no matter what you do it slimes...although I have heard about putting it in the fridge in a little bit of water in a glass...?

Jen

Pattie T. said...

Green peppers and onions can be chopped and frozen. It's very handy when you need a half cup (more or less) to just measure out what you need from a plastic bag in the freezer. And doing your own is much cheaper than buying the pre frozen bags. I also macerate and freeze strawberries, zest and juice citrus to freeze, peel and mash bananas individually to use in smoothies. I try not to waste a thing.

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